A return to the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day remains the primary focus for Princess Kereru this season. The daughter of Pins was beaten by a neck by Santa Monica in the opening Group 1 of the year and trainers Ken and Bev Kelso would dearly love to go one better this term.
She kicked off her preparation with a third placing in her 800m trial at Cambridge on Monday and Ken Kelso believes she has gained a bit of strength during winter. “She’s coming up well this prep, she’s stronger this time in,” he said. “I was very happy with her trial.”
Princess Kereru will make her raceday resumption in the Group 3 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m) at Rotorua next month, but will likely have one more blowout before that initial assignment. “She’ll probably have an exhibition gallop at Matamata on October 10 between races and then she’ll kick off in the Sweynesse at Rotorua,” Kelso said. “She won the same day there last year so it’s an obvious kick-off point.”
Kelso admitted the six-year-old mare is becoming increasingly hard to place, but he endeavours to pick out a suitable path to the Railway on January 1. “She’s becoming hard to place now, she’s a 101 rating so she’s probably a weight-for-age or set-weights & penalties horse,” he said. “She’ll kick off in the Sweynesse then we’ll make a plan to get back to the Railway from there on. “Obviously she’s Group 1 placed, a Group 3 and Listed winner, so the ultimate prize is that Group 1. She comes into the set weights & penalties race quite nicely still with only 54kg on her back.”
Meanwhile, Kelso was also pleased with Supera’s resuming trial where she finished third in her 935m heat. “She’s coming up really well, I think she’s a lot stronger,” he said. “She spelled well and I thought it was a nice trial by her. “She’s another that’s pretty hard to place, she’s rated 100. She will probably kick-off in an open 1400m at Ellerslie and then the Group race at Tauranga (Group 2 Tauranga Stakes, 1600m).”
Like her stablemate, Supera is being set for Group 1 assignments after finishing runner-up to Nicoletta in the Group 1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha in April. “Her ultimate goal this year is the Captain Cook (Group 1, 1600m).
The idea of going to Ellerslie first is to give her a look around as she’s never been there. The Zabeel Classic (Group 1, 2000m) at Ellerslie is the goal after the Captain Cook. “She’s capable of winning a Group 1 mile if she’s kept on the fresh side and the Captain Cook is a nice race for her. Then going over ground in the Zabeel and then there’s Te Rapa after that.”