Belclare set for tilt at Breeders’ Stakes history

Belclare will attempt to defend her crown in Saturday’s Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie. Photo: Race Images

Awapuni raider Belclare will attempt a rare feat when she heads to Ellerslie to defend her title in Saturday’s Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m).

There have been no back-to-back winners of the prestigious fillies and mares’ feature since it was elevated to Group One status in 2002.

Belclare produced a career-best performance in last year’s edition of the Breeders’ Stakes, which was run at Pukekohe. The daughter of Per Incanto burst to the lead in the straight and left a quality field in her wake, scoring by three lengths over subsequent Group One winner Skew Wiff.

That Group One triumph capped a highly successful season for Belclare, who had previously won the Group 3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) and Listed Wairarapa Breeders’ Stakes (1600m).

Rain-affected tracks have been a frequent stumbling block for Belclare in her six-year-old season, but the high point came when she won the Group 2 Westbury Classic (1400m) at Ellerslie in late January. That was her only career start so far at northern headquarters, and it improved her right-handed record to three starts for two outstanding Group wins.

Belclare heads into this year’s Breeders’ Stakes on the back of an unplaced finish in last month’s Group 1 Otaki-Maori WFA Classic (1600m), but she has since scored a trial win over Papa Surf and Lantern Way.

“I think we can definitely put her last-start performance down to the wet track at Otaki that day,” trainer Lisa Latta said. “All of her best form is on dry ground, and as soon as it gets too wet, she really doesn’t perform at all.

“But she’s had a great few weeks since that race. She won a trial earlier this month, then had another jumpout last week just to keep her up to the mark. She went really nicely in both of those.”

Belclare will be ridden by Sam Spratt, whose five previous mounts on the mare have produced victories in the Breeders’ Stakes and Westbury Classic, along with a strong-finishing fourth in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) in the spring. Horse racing bookmakers rate Belclare a +650 fourth favourite for the Breeders’ Stakes behind La Crique (+230), Pearl Of Alsace (+300) and Mustang Valley (+450).

“She goes well with a bit of space between her runs, and I think she’s had the right sort of build-up to this race,” Latta said. “She seemed to like that new track at Ellerslie when she ran in the Westbury there.

“I think she’s going into this race in similar sort of shape to when she won it at Pukekohe last year. I couldn’t be happier with her. She’s drawn to get a nice run.”

Horse racing news

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments