Gallops - News

Hot field set to line up in Sistema Stakes

  • Mon, 05 Mar 2018
  • Dennis Ryan
Unbeaten two-year-old Avantage prepares for the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes with a hitout on the Ellerslie course proper.

Unbeaten two-year-old Avantage prepares for the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes with a hitout on the Ellerslie course proper.

Reputations will go on the line in the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie on Saturday.

Unbeaten fillies Avantage and Melt will be joined by last week’s Matamata feature winners Spanish Whisper and Sword Of Osman in what promises to be the defining juvenile race of the season thus far.

Fastnet Rock filly Avantage is the country’s highest rated two-year-old after an unbeaten four-win sequence that began at Riccarton in October and was completed in the Karaka Million in late January.

She limbered up for Saturday’s big assignment with a training gallop on the Ellerslie course proper last week and is reported to be right on target for the Sistema, run over the same 1200 metres as the Karaka Million.

The beaten brigade in the Karaka Million included her stablemate Sword Of Osman, who bounced back with a demolition job on his male rivals in the Gr. 3 Reid & Harrison Slipper at Matamata nine days ago. The Savabeel gelding will front up again at Ellerslie on Saturday when he will be ridden by Matt Cameron, with stable rider Opie Bosson set to continue his association with Avantage.

Michael McNab, who normally has second call on Te Akau rides, is staying with Pukekohe filly Melt, the winner of two stakes events from as many starts. The Iffraaj filly made her first public appearance since winning the Gr. 3 Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day when she was unplaced in an open 1000-metre trial at Avondale last Tuesday.

McNab kept the Nigel Tiley-trained filly under a tight hold throughout in what was clearly a limbering-up exercise.

Last week’s Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes winner Spanish Whisper has been confirmed for the Sistema Stakes, with the proviso that a wide draw may change those plans.

“She’s come through the Matamata run well so we’ll nominate for Ellerslie and work it out from there,” co-trainer Peter Williams told this morning. “At this stage she’s going but if she was to draw wide we wouldn’t be that keen.”

Spanish Whisper has been beaten only once in three starts, and that was by just a long neck at the hands of Avantage when that filly was having her final lead-up to the Karaka Million.