Fursdon aiming for Group One glory

Ill Ava Alf

Matamata trainer Karen Fursdon is hoping to cap off a great week when she lines up Le Sablier in the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on Saturday.

Fursdon experienced success as an owner earlier this week when Le Sablier’s half-brother I’ll’ava’alf won by four and a half-lengths in the 3450m steeplechase at Warrnambool on Thursday.

The Lucky Unicorn nine-year-old gelding put in a stoic effort to win for trainer Patrick Ryan Jr, who has big plans for the jumper bred by Fursdon along with her husband Kevin and Peter Stanaway.

“He jumped well mostly, he got close to a couple but finished it off well even though he was coming down the outside of the track. The other horses just couldn’t get anywhere near him,” Fursdon said.

“It was amazing, the trainer has done a super job. He’s had two steeplechase trials and a race. Patrick has done a lot of homework with him to have him ready, so it’s been a super training feat.

“He’s getting him ready to go to the Oakbank next time and then onto the Grand Annual at Warrnambool. That’s the two he is aiming at and then after that he will have a bit of a spell and then gets ready for the Jericho.”

Fursdon trained I’ll’ava’alf to six wins in New Zealand before selling him to Australia, where she, Kevin and Stanaway have remain involved.

“We kept a 10 per cent share which has been a lot of fun for all of the ownership,” Fursdon said.

“We sold him to Sandy McGregor from Australia, who is the Australian Jumping Racing Association chairman, and he put a group of owners together.”

Meanwhile, Fursdon will line-up I’ll’ava’alf’s sibling Le Sablier in the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham, in what will be an exciting family affair.

“His little half-sister by Tavistock is in the Oaks and we’re definitely looking forward to it,” she said. “It has the same ownership except we have added in our three sons, we have given them a share each. They are very excited to have one in the Oaks, as are we.”

Fursdon said jockey Jonathan Parkes’ feedback after Le Sablier’s last-start fifth placing in the Gr.3 Lowland Stakes (2100m) was enough to sway Fursdon’s decision to pay the late entry fee for the Group One classic.

“She’s been working really well. She is a lovely filly and her run in the Lowland gave us the confidence to pay the late entry, she wasn’t even named when the first entries were called for.

“Jonathan Parkes said if you want to go for the Oaks, there’s no reason why you can’t go for it.” – NZ Racing Desk.