The Jamie Richards-trained Self Obsession cemented her place at the top of the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) market with yet another game victory when landing the Gr.2 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings on Wednesday.
The daughter of Shocking has now won her past four starts, three of them at stakes level, with her only defeat when finishing third on debut.
It is the third Group Two victory for the strong staying filly, who previously landed the Gr.2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and Gr.2 David and Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa last month.
Under leading jockey Michael McNab, Self Obsession settled just behind the speed set by local hope One Dream One Soul, a $37 outsider.
McNab produced $1.50 favourite Self Obsession three-wide turning for home but needed the length of the Hastings straight to reel in a brave One Dream One Soul to win by half a length, with a further 2-1/4 lengths back to Flash Mary in third.
Richards was pleased with Self Obsession’s winning effort and is delighted to have a top chance in what will be his last New Zealand Oaks tilt before he heads to Hong Kong next month, where he has been licensed next season.
“What a great win, gee, she’s tough,” Richards said.
“She was able to relax off the speed, on a good tempo, and given a lovely ride by Michael.
“She was coming all the way down the straight and always looked as though she had the race within her grasp.
“She’s a great staying filly, although she is no oil painting and maybe not one you’d put your hand up to buy at the yearling sales, but I’m very thankful to David Price and Jenny Chapman in Hong Kong, who bred and race her, and Mark and Vicki Baker at Hallmark Stud, for sending her down to us to train in Matamata.
“We’re all really looking forward to the Oaks.”
Self Obsession is now rated a $2.40 Oaks favourite ahead of The Perfect Pink ($5) and Glory Bound ($6).
The win was Richards’ 100th of the season, and 28th at stakes level this term. Te Akau Racing’s Matamata conditioner also surpassed $5 million in prizemoney domestically for the season.
Self Obsession now leads the prestigious New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series on 24 points ahead of stablemates Belle En Rouge (16 points), The Perfect Pink (12 points) and Imperatriz (7.5 points).
Saturday’s Gr.3 Mckee Family Sunline Vase (2100m), which features Belle En Rouge, and the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 19 are the final two legs of the 11-race series.
There are 10 yearlings by Rich Hill Stud stallion Shocking catalogued at the forthcoming New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales, which commence at Karaka on Monday.