A new addition to the Matamata Breeders Stakes meeting will be the next step on a path to a further Group 1 assignment for consistent Matamata mare Yearn. A second-up winner of the Group 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe in November, Yearn continued her solid form with a hard-fought third behind The Mitigator and Wyndspelle in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham last start and trainer Karen Fursdon couldn’t be happier with the six-year-old Savabeel mare. “She’s come through it terrific,” she said. “We’re so proud of her. She’s got the heart of a lion.”
Yearn will have her sixth start of her current campaign in the inaugural Lisa Chittick Plate (1400m), a fillies and mares set weights and penalties event at Matamata on February 22, and her main goal will be the Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 4. “The Matamata race should be a good lead-up for her towards the Group 1 at Te Aroha,” Fursdon said. “She’ll have one more run in between, but we’ll decide on where that will be after she gets through her Matamata race. “If she does great she may have a Brisbane campaign after Te Aroha. Mark has been looking at the Queensland programmes and the Prime Ministers Cup (Listed, 1600m) at the Gold Coast could be a good race for her.”
Between her Group 2 Pukekohe win and her last-start Thorndon Mile third she ran fourth in the Group 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa and a brave second to Prise de Fer in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. Having won seven of her 36 starts and earned more than $317,000 in prizemoney, Yearn is the star of the Fursdon team, but the latest celebration for the stable came at Te Teko on Monday when debutante Miss Miller scored a convincing win over 1400m.
Miss Miller is a daughter of Pins and Zabeels Angel, who was a winner of nine races, including the Group 3 CJC Winter Cup (1600m), and a Group 2 placegetter in Sydney. She is raced by her breeders, Helen-Gaye and Graham Bax (part-owners of Blandford Lodge), along with four other racing enthusiasts, including Fursdon’s husband, Kevin. “She was still weak looking when we got her, but she turned the corner and has really bloomed,” Fursdon said. “You ask her to do something and she does it. “She ran a really nice trial in her first run for us at Cambridge and Vinnie (Colgan, jockey) rode her and said she was ready to go straight to the races over 1400m or 1600m. “I don’t want to overtax her so will look for a soft Rating 65 somewhere in a few weeks and just take her along quietly.”
Miss Miller was the first winner for Fursdon since Yearn’s Breeders Stakes victory in November and between times Fursdon had to settle for 13 minor placings with her small team. One of those recent placings was a close second at Tauranga by Le Sablier earlier this month, a run which could see her chase a black type win in the Listed Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Tauherenikau on February 6. “Sam (Weatherley, jockey) admitted he went too soon on her the other day at Tauranga,” Fursdon said. “She got beaten a head by a pretty good type (Vee Cece) and she’s done well since. “She will probably go to Tauherenikau for the fillies and mares race unless it’s too strong.”
Meanwhile, Fursdon is hoping to pick up another win at Hastings on Wednesday with Bravissimo, who will contest the final event, the Everfresh Transport Mile. Bravissimo has been off the winners’ list since completing a double when scoring at Ruakaka in November 2018, but the Showcasing mare has been five times placed since then and Fursdon is confident she will perform well at Hastings. “She was very brave when she ran sixth at Tauranga last start after being wide all the way,” Fursdon said. “I think she’s a good chance at Hastings.”