Cambridge trainer John Bell has a formidable hand to play at Saturday’s Karaka Million meeting at Ellerslie.
Bell will produce exciting filly Kapoor in the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) and talented sprinter Julius in the Group 3 Brighthill Farm Concorde Handicap (1200m), convinced both are winning chances.
In Kapoor’s case, Bell has found a million-dollar race that fits her Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) preparation in terms of timing and distance.
“Her whole campaign is about having her at fever pitch for the Oaks, but this race fitted her programme and she’s eligible so we’re having a run,” Bell said.
“She’s fit and well – and with any luck she might give them a fright.”
Kapoor has had nine starts for just the one win, but has finished second on five occasions, including in her last two starts in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m) at Ellerslie and the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at the same track.
“Her second placings could easily have been wins. She keeps getting forced out wider by her opponents,” Bell said.
“Danielle [Johnson, jockey] has suggested riding her a couple of places further back and that way she can run at them rather than them running at us.
“At the barrier draw function, a lot of her rival’s trainers were saying they were going to push forward early so rather than follow the crowd, we’ll probably try and tuck in behind.”
TAB bookmakers have Kapoor at $16 in a market headed by Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Embellish at $3.30.
“She’s a filly that’s a true professional,” Bell said. “She’s got no issues and she just goes and gets the job done – the kind of female you’d like to be married to.”
Safely through Saturday’s race, Kapoor will step up in distance to either the Gr.2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 10 or the Listed Fasttrack Insurance Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth a week earlier.
Earlier on Saturday’s card, Julius will start favourite in the Concorde, having resumed with a brilliant 3 1/2-length win at Ellerslie a fortnight ago.
“He’s improved. He’s a big boy and he worked up nicely on his own this week. Jake Bayliss has shed the weight to ride him at 53 kilos so that’s a good sign,” Bell said.
“He’s a six-year-old, but he’s still immature and still very much a big kid. Big horses have their issues more than little ones, especially the really competitive ones so we’ve had to be patient with him.
“This horse has muscle upon muscle and he takes plenty of massaging with coconut oil but he loves that too. There’s some good horses in there, but on his run the other day, he’s got to be the horse to beat.”