Consistent performer Prise De Fer has multiple top-flight placings to his credit and the Jamie Richards-trained representative is in top order for Ellerslie where he will attempt to breakthrough at the highest level on Boxing Day.
The genuine son of Savabeel will take aim at the Gr.1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m), in which the gelding will again be partnered by Te Akau’s retained rider Opie Bosson.
Prise De Fer’s three previous appearances have been in top company and last time out finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) after he had been third in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) and second in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m).
“He’s done well and he’s a good, honest horse and is in good form. He is sound and healthy, but he does have a bad habit of running into one better on the day,” Richards said.
“He has prepared well and everything has gone according to plan, so we’ll see whether he can knock one off.”
While Richards is expecting Prise De Fer to give another bold account of himself at Ellerslie, he believes another upcoming opportunity at a feature event could be an even better fit.
“He’s going well and probably a race like the Thorndon Mile (Gr.1, 1600m) at set weights and penalties is a really nice race for him,” he said.
“That’s where he’ll be going and could be better-suited in a race like that. I think a mile is his pet distance, but he does get a good 2000m as well so it gives us plenty of options.”
The stable has another leading black type chance on Boxing Day with the talented Belle En Rouge to step out in the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m).
She showed her quality when third in the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in the spring and in her only start since won the Gr.3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) at Awapuni.
Belle En Rouge, who will also be ridden by Bosson, appeals as the filly to beat at Ellerslie in what isn’t the strongest edition of the Eight Carat.
“I think that’s a fair assessment and she is in good shape. She hasn’t taken too much harm from that first-up run and she did a little bit of work right-handed on Wednesday to get her back on that leg,” Richards said.
“There is no reason why she won’t run well again and she’s a very honest type of horse.”
Belle En Rouge holds nominations for both the Gr.1 Wellington Seamarket Levin Classic (1600m) and the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and the latter has become the more likely option.
“Before a Burgundy (Mondorani) won the New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) I would have said the Levin Classic, but he has now showed that he can leave a stayer,” Richards said.
“Our filly relaxes well in her races so we’re leaning toward getting her out over a trip and seeing if she can get enough points to be the Filly of the Year. I think that is the route we will stick with.”
Another Boxing Day race of major interest for the stable is the Civic Contractors 2YO (1100m), in which trial performers Dynastic and Iff I Get Paaid will debut, but Richards leans toward Grace ‘N’ Grey who finished runner-up at Te Aroha in her first appearance.
“I think you have to favour Grace ‘N’ Grey as she has the race day experience on the board,” he said.