Quality mare in tip-top order for Livamol challenge

Pearl Of Alsace will contest the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on Saturday. Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Pearl Of Alsace has enjoyed a faultless preparation and will strip at the top of her game for Saturday’s Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings.

The Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray-trained daughter of Tavistock has impressed in both lead-up runs and is now ready to shine in her first crack at a middle distance.

“We have been building toward this and, with that in mind, we have ridden her very cold in her first two starts this prep, partly because of the barrier draws and being proactive in teaching her to relax so she runs out the 2040m,” Ritchie said.

“The way she has relaxed in her last couple of races we’re confident she will get the trip.”

Pearl Of Alsace will jump from the ace draw and she won’t be conceding as much ground to her rivals this time.

“There’s no point in riding her cold from barrier one on Saturday, punters can rest assured that she won’t be giving away the big starts that she has in her first two runs,” Ritchie said.

“We won’t be bustling her out of the barrier, but she won’t be out the back door either.”

Pride Of Alsace claimed the Group 3 Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham last season and ended her campaign with a luckless fourth in the Group 1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Pukekohe.

Following a break, the five-year-old powered home for second when resuming at Ruakaka over 1400m and then stepped up to a mile at Te Rapa to go one better.

“We took her up to Ruakaka for a week and took advantage of working her at the beach and galloping on the track and I felt she was ready for her first start,” Ritchie said.

“When we got her home, we backed off a bit and maybe a little too much, she put a bit of weight on and she was a bit vulnerable second-up.

“She looked like she was going to clear away from them at the top of the straight when she jogged into it, but lacked a little bit of fitness so it was a good effort to win.

“We have certainly fixed that mistake and put the foot on the accelerator since then and she is in superb order. Her coat is terrific and she’s going to take some holding out.”

Future plans for Pearl Of Alsace will be determined after Saturday following discussions with breeder-owner Sir Peter Vela and Racing Manager Garry Cossey.

“It will be performance based and I’ll be talking to Sir Peter and Garry post-race,” Ritchie said.

“This is a big test and the program we have mapped out and only having the two runs going into this opens up a number of options.

“There is a chance she could go to Melbourne, there are some nice mares’ races there, or there’s the Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham where she’s got a good record.

“It will all come back to her performance on Saturday and then we’ll make some decisions.

“Certainly, she is not at the bottom of her prep and this is her first New Zealand target and we think we’ve got her right.”

Ritchie is also confident Pearl Of Alsace’s stablemate Roc Dancer can make an impact in the Water Bar Napier Premier (2200m) following her last-start fifth on the course on the middle day of the carnival.

“She drew out a bit and got caught three wide and had to sustain a big run and never gave it away, she kept coming,” he said.

“She’s been up a while, but she continues to train on very well so from a better gate and a more economical trip she can be right in the finish.”

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