Mon, 19 February 2024

Orchestral a class above in Avondale Guineas


CameraOrchestral winning the Gr.2 Eagle Technology Avondale Guineas (2100m). Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Three weeks after announcing her arrival among the season’s elite three-year-olds in breathtaking style on Karaka Millions night, Orchestral treated Ellerslie to an encore in Saturday’s Gr.2 Eagle Technology Avondale Guineas (2100m).

The exciting Savabeel filly had blown her rivals away by three and a half lengths in last month’s $1.5 million TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m), and the step up to 2100m on Saturday produced something every bit as impressive.

Orchestral was sent out as a $1.50 favourite in the hands of jockey Craig Grylls, and the race could hardly have been scripted any better. She enjoyed a comfortable run in sixth, one off the rail, as High Country set a genuine pace out in front.

Grylls made his move with 500m remaining, swooping around the outside and looming widest of all at the home turn.

Orchestral bounded up alongside Just As Sharp at the 300m mark, and for the next 100m, that rival fought back bravely and provided a stern challenge.

But then Orchestral changed gears, powering ahead and opening up a winning margin of four lengths.

“That was very good,” Grylls said. “We got a perfect run, about four back and one off. There was good speed on and she relaxed beautifully, which was great to see in her first time up over ground.

“She got to Just As Sharp very easily in the straight. From about the 200m to the finish post, it felt like she was getting quicker and quicker every 50m or so.

“She wanted to keep going past the line too and would hardly blow a candle out now, which is a good sign for the step up to the Derby trip. It’s exciting.”

Orchestral’s spectacular performance has tightened her hold on favouritism for the Gr.1 Trackside New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 2. The TAB already rated her a $2.60 favourite before the Avondale Guineas, and they have since slashed that quote to $1.40.

Orchestral’s co-trainer Roger James has a proud record in the Derby, winning it with Tidal Light (1986), Roysyn (1995), Zonda (1997), Hades (1999) and Silent Achiever (2012). The respected horseman liked what he saw on Saturday.

“Her owners, Colin and Helen Litt, have been loyal supporters of our stable for a long time,” he said. “We’ve gone to the sales with great ambition on a number of occasions, but haven’t always come away with the results. But at this stage, this filly is looking like she might be one out of the box. We have to recognise that and treat her accordingly, and hopefully we can do all we can to optimise this ability that she has.

“It was a pretty special performance today. Looking at the head-on replay, it’s great to see that she was galloping lovely and true out on her own down the straight.

“It was very pleasing to see that the race was run at a genuine pace. I’ve always been a great advocate for pace in a race, and it ensures that the best horse wins. I noticed that she was very strong past the line as well, which was another good sign from a Derby point of view.”

James and his training partner Robert Wellwood paid $625,000 to buy Orchestral from Haunui Farm’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2022. Her seven-start career has now produced four wins, two seconds and $977,175 in stakes.

Saturday’s runner-up Just As Sharp remains at $10 in the New Zealand Derby market, while Australian raider Interlinked produced an eye-catching run into third and has shortened from $18 into $8. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk