Local trainer Andrew Carston will have a strong presence at the New Zealand Cup meeting at Riccarton on Saturday where he will line-up 12 runners, including Miss Federer and Sanctify in the Listed Barneswood Farm Welcome Stakes (1000m).
Miss Federer heads into the race as a $2.50 favourite with TAB bookmakers after her last- start winning performance on her home track, while Sanctify is less favoured, opening at $23.
Miss Federer ran third on debut at Riccarton over 800m before going on to break her maiden in her second start and Carston said the two-year-old Swiss Ace filly has taken a lot of improvement from each run.
“I’m really happy with her progress,” he said. “I think she made massive improvement from her first race into her second run and I think she has improved again, so I am very happy with her.
“I thought she got away on them in the end (in her last start) which is encouraging going up to 1000m. She’s got a reasonably good draw (barrier four), so we’ll use that again. She’ll be somewhere on the speed.”
Carston purchased the Nearco Stud-bred filly out of Bradbury Park’s New Zealand Bloodstock Book Two Yearling Sale Draft for $10,000 earlier this year with South Island juvenile races in-mind.
“I think she was just a nice, neat filly,” he said. “I knew a little bit about her mother from being a good mare down in the South Island and she was cheap enough.
“I quite like to find a horse to suit these early South Island races, they are not normally big fields.”
While Carston has been pleased with Miss Federer’s race day performances he said she has been far from impressive in her trackwork.
“She’s not a very good trackworker, so nothing has changed there. She hasn’t worked very well, but she saves it for race day.”
A filly that does impress Carston in her trackwork is stablemate and Welcome Stakes rival Sanctify. The Reliable Man filly is also a graduate from this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sales where she was purchased by Go Racing for $45,000.
“She’s a lovely filly, I really like her,” Carston said. “Her work has been really good, but it’s disappointing to draw the outside gate (barrier eight).
“She drew out in her first start and got lost. She’s taken improvement from her first run and is definitely progressing in the right way, but she is going to need a bit of luck from the outside gate. She is a nice filly to follow.”
While Carston does favour Sanctify based on trackwork, he has labelled Miss Federer the pick of the two heading into Saturday’s contest.
“On track work Sanctify would probably be the pick,” he said.
“They work together all the time and if trackwork is anything to go on Sanctify definitely worked as good as Miss Federer.
“But race day form and race day experience has got to account for a lot, so I would probably favour Miss Federer from the gate.”
Meanwhile, Carston believes he has plenty of other good chances at the premier meeting.
“I think I have got a really nice team at Riccarton on Saturday,” he said.
“On a firm track I think Hee’s Our Secret has got to be a chance. Khorabella is a nice mare and Red River Rock is definitely a chance.
“It’s a good day to have a few runners, so fingers-crossed.”