Fri, 16 November 2018

Xpression to Cap Dream Week for Haunui


Story by Richard Edmunds, The Informant

Haunui Farm managing director Mark Chitty is hoping to cap a dream week for the Karaka farm with Group One glory in Saturday’s New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton.

Haunui’s white, red and black colours were worn to victories at Te Rapa last Saturday by half-siblings Sahar and Rondinella, and Sam Collett will wear them aboard the 1000 Guineas favourite Xpression just after 3pm on Saturday.

“We’re really excited about the Guineas,” Chitty said. “We’re lucky to have a horse good enough to be in a race like this, let alone one of the leading contenders. It’s a very fortunate position to be in.

“I’ll be there for the race on Saturday. I wouldn’t miss it. I just hope I don’t jinx her!”

Trained in Hastings by Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen, the daughter of former Haunui shuttle stallion Showcasing has won three of her five starts including the Gr. 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes and an easy last-start win in the Gr. 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes at Ashburton.

The TAB rates her a $2.30 chance for Saturday’s $300,000 classic, with Melt (by Haunui shuttle stallion Iffraaj) at $3 and Media Sensation $5.20.

Chitty is still savouring last Saturday’s Te Rapa double, with three-year-old colt Sahar (Iffraaj out of Valpolicella) winning a 1600-metre maiden in good style before the highly rated mare Rondinella (Ocean Park out of Valpolicella) scored in Rating 65 grade later in the day.

“It was a very proud day for us,” Chitty said. “We were especially delighted with Rondinella, after all she’s been through. She’s endured a fair bit and it was a great team effort to get her back to the races and winning.”

Trained by Roger James and Robert Wellwood, Rondinella was a highly impressive maiden winner last season and a fast-finishing fourth in the Gr. 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic before suffering a serious hoof injury.

Valpolicella, also bred and raced by Haunui, won three races including the Gr. 3 Manawatu Classic and the Listed Champagne Stakes.

She is the dam of five winners from six foals to race, headed by the multiple stakes winners Catalonia (known as Vilanova in Australia), Vavasour and Celebrity Dream.

Sahar, who is nominated for the New Zealand Derby, and Rondinella have strong credentials to join that black-type group.

“We’re excited about what they can potentially achieve through the rest of this season, but you never know in this racing game and can’t get ahead of yourself,” Chitty said.

Valpolicella’s two most recent foals have been a filly by Savabeel (born in 2016) and a colt by Iffraaj born this spring.