Secret Amour will be on trial for a Brisbane winter campaign when she contests the Gr.3 Rydges Rotorua Stakes (1400m) at Arawa Park on Saturday.
The five-year-old mare joined New Plymouth trainer Robbie Patterson from the Jamie Richards stable this season and made an immediate impact, winning an open handicap at Wanganui last month after coming from last.
It’s an effort which prompted Patterson to send her to tackle black type company for the first time this weekend.
“By all accounts she’s really thrived, and she’s improved in condition as well – she was quite big in condition. She’s a lovely horse, and she’s won at Rotorua before,” Patterson said.
“If she can get her toe in the track a little bit she’ll be rushing home at the finish. If she goes well in that she’ll come to Brisbane and we’ll find a race for her here.”
The most likely target for Secret Amour if she does head to Brisbane is the Listed The Wayne Wilson WFA (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 11.
“After that, I’m pretty sure she will stay and be covered by a stallion,” Patterson said.
Patterson is already in Australia with his Group One-winning mare Coventina Bay and the lightly-raced three-year-old filly Nom De Plume.
Both finished fifth at the weekend, Coventina Bay behind Zaaki in the Gr.2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) on Saturday and Nom De Plume in a three-year-old 1800m contest on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday, after a frustrating week’s preparation.
“It’s pretty warm over here, and being mares, they both got in season and started tying up,” Patterson said.
“Coventina Bay has also overcome so foot issues, so for her to do what she did against Zaaki was really good, and she’s come through it very well.
“She was only probably running about 70 percent. I think that’s why she ranged into it on the turn but didn’t kick like she normally does, though the track was holding as well.”
Coventina Bay has come through that effort well and will return to the track for the Gr.1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on June 21.
“There’s a lot of improvement in her, and she’ll be ready to go a big race.”
Once her Queensland campaign is over there is a good chance Coventina Bay will be sold as a broodmare prospect.
Nom De Plume will run next at Ipswich on May 18, and if she wins that she’s likely to then contest the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 4.
Coventina Bay and Nom De Plume will be joined in Queensland on Friday by the fast-improving stayer The Fearless One, fresh from a dominant victory over 2400m at Te Rapa in the hands of Craig Grylls on April 30.
His first task is likely to be a Benchmark 80 contest over 2200m at Eagle Farm on May 28. If he wins that, the Gr.2 Brisbane Cup (3200m) back at Eagle Farm on June 11 is on the cards.
“He’s a gorgeous horse, one out of the box, staying-wise. He’s got a massive set of lungs, and the other day at Te Rapa, he wouldn’t have blown a match out. The further he goes, the better he’ll get,” Patterson said.
“He’s a very straightforward horse and compared to the mares it should be pretty plain sailing to get him ready.”
The Fearless One is among several horses Patterson trains by The Bold One, a promising son of Fastnet Rock based at Grangewilliam Stud near Wanganui, who has made a good start to his career despite limited numbers.
He has two more by the same sire due to make their debuts in New Zealand this week: One Bold Cat, in a 1360m maiden at Wanganui on Thursday, and Mary Louise, in a maiden 1400m event at Hawera on Saturday.
“I run an agistment farm for Eddie Burke, who owns The Bold One, so I’ve got paddocks-full of them. To have The Fearless One for him is great,” he said.
“One Bold Cat, he’s a half brother to Swiss Kitty, who’s won twice and is a pretty smart horse for us. He’s work in progress and though he should go a pretty cheeky race, he’ll be better next year.
“Mary Louise on Saturday is going to be a real nice staying horse for us as well. She should go a good race.”
Also running at Wanganui for Patterson will be Bendermerry, who has just joined Patterson this year. She has previously had four second-place finishes from 15 starts.
“She’s been working really well and has been faultless at her jumpouts,” Patterson said. “I don’t know how Wanganui will be playing but after she drew barrier one, she should just about be winning that race.”
Patterson’s team for the week is also set to include The Dutch Dame, who finished fourth at her only start last June, and the debutant Memento.
“Memento’s mother is a half-sister to So You Think so he’s a very well-bred horse. I think he’s a really nice horse in the making. He’ll be a good stayer next year.”