IN Racing
Sakura Girl set to bloom in Oaks
Sakura Girl will chase the first leg of a major trans-Tasman double for Cambridge trainer Ben Foote at Trentham on Saturday.
NZ Racing Desk | March 15, 2023
Sakura Girl will contest the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks. Photo: Trish Dunell

Sakura Girl will chase the first leg of a major trans-Tasman double for Cambridge trainer Ben Foote at Trentham on Saturday.

The in-form daughter of Iffraaj is the pre-post favourite for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) while stablemate Babylon Berlin is in Melbourne to prepare for Friday week’s Gr.1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.

Sakura Girl has enjoyed a trouble-free build-up and jumped to the top of the Oaks market following a decisive front-running victory in the Gr.3 Sunline Vase (2100m) and Foote has no concerns about the extra distance.

“You never know until they try, but I would very much doubt there will be any trouble at all, she’s such a big, strong horse,” he said.

“I’m really happy and everything has been faultless with her, no hiccups whatsoever.

“The Oaks is one race I’ve always wanted to win, it’s one of a handful right at the top of my list.”

Sakura Girl is raced by Andy Lau and Ross Lao of Upper Bloodstock, who purchased her for $260,000 out of Riverrock Farm’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale draft.

“We’ve all become very good friends and done a lot of business together and bought a lot of horses again this year,” Foote said.

Should Sakura Girl’s hot run of form continue at Trentham, she will also be in line for a trip further afield.

“More than likely it will be Australia, I haven’t looked into it too much but maybe we’ll look at the Oaks (Gr.1, 2000m) in Adelaide,” Foote said.

Meanwhile, last-start Gr.3 King’s Plate (1200m) runaway winner and multiple Group One placegetter Babylon Berlin safely landed in Melbourne in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“She arrived just after midnight and travelled really well so everything is looking good,” Foote said.

“She will go to Moonee Valley on Monday morning for a gallop, it will be good for her to have a look around there.”

All going well in the William Reid, the speedy daughter of All Too Hard will head to Western Australia for the inaugural running of the A$4 million The Quokka (1200m) at Ascot on April 15.

“If she runs up to her form, there’s a very good chance she will fly to Perth on April 3,” Foote said. “I think the track will suit her style of racing as well.”

Babylon Berlin travelled to Australia in the care of Foote’s son Ryan, who may join his father in partnership in the future.

“It’s there for him and he’s a very good horseman. I wanted him to get out and about first and not tie him down here unless he really wanted that,” he said.

“He’s very keen and only just got back from Melbourne last week after working at the sales, he’s had a few trips in the last six months.

“He worked for Ohukia Lodge at the Sydney and New Zealand Ready to Run Sales, Bhima Thoroughbreds at the Gold Coast, Carlaw Park at Karaka (yearling sale) and Maluka Thoroughbreds in Melbourne.”

All Too Hard Andy Lau Babylon Berlin Ben Foote Carlaw Park Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks Gr.1 William Reid Stakes Gr.3 King’s Plate Gr.3 Sunline Vase Iffraaj Melbourne Moonee Valley Ohukia Lodge Riverrock Farm Ross Lao Sakura Girl The Quokka Trentham