A win by Dijon Bleu in Saturday’s Group 2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa will go a long way to fulfilling Lisa Latta’s wish.
The leading Awapuni trainer has her heart set on winning the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series with Dijon Bleu and even a $1 million carrot wasn’t enough to tempt her to alter plans.
After impressively winning the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on January 20, Dijon Bleu had the opportunity to back up a week later at Ellerslie in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), but Latta and her fellow owners in the Burgundy filly opted to bypass the rich mile race and concentrate on the NZB Filly of the Year title.
Latta prepared Platinum Witness to win the 2014-15 series and is set on repeating the feat with Dijon Bleu, who is currently a clear leader with 22 points, eight and a half points ahead of her nearest rival, Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) winner Contessa Vanessa, while Hasahalo, winner of the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) is next on 12 points.
With both Contessa Vanessa and Hasahalo missing from Saturday’s feature, a further win by Dijon Bleu on Saturday would take her to 30 points and possibly an unassailable lead in the series.
If Dijon Bleu can win on Saturday she will have earned enough points to have won the series in any of the last six years.
Latta plans to continue along the series path after Saturday’s event to the Group Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings on March 1.
But a start in the Lowland and the final series’ race, the Group 1 Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 17, will all depend on how she manages the 2000 metres in Saturday’s Sir Tristram Fillies Classic.
Dijon Bleu has not been tested beyond 1600 metres, but the manner in which she disposed of her rivals in the Desert Gold Stakes, when bursting clear to win by three lengths, suggests she should handle at least the extra 400 metres.
“She’s quite a slight filly. There’s not a lot to her, but she’s got a big motor,” said Latta, who bought Dijon Bleu from the Bradbury Park draft at the 2016 Select Yearling Sale at Karaka for $26,000.
“As a two-year-old she showed a lot of speed and won first-up in front. But we didn’t want her to be just a 1200-metre horse so we rode her a bit quieter and it’s worked out well.”
“Leith held her up last time in the Desert Gold and she was impressive.”
With Innes under suspension, a new rider needed to be found for Saturday and Latta settled on Jonathan Riddell.
“Jonathan won the O’Leary Stakes on her early in the season so he knows her,” Latta said.
“We’ll just take it one step at a time, but I’m very happy with her.