First Test of Stamina in New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series

Two Illicit (NZ) lines up in Leg 5 of the NZB Filly of the Year Series this Wednesday.
Two Illicit (NZ) lines up in Leg 5 of the NZB Filly of the Year Series this Wednesday.

The 2019-20 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series stretches out beyond 1600 metres for the first time in Wednesday’s fifth leg, the $100,000 Group 2 Valachi Downs Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.

Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) moved to the top of the table with her win in last week’s Group 2 SkyCity Eight Carat Classic (1600m), but a couple of Royal Stakes runners will be out to narrow the gap.

Lilikoi (NZ) (Charm Spirit) earned 6 points with a dominant win in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) earlier this month, and connections are confident that extra distance will be ideal.

There are similar expectations for Two Illicit (NZ) (Jimmy Choux), who charged home to finish second in the Eight Carat and has 4 points to her name.

The Royal Stakes is worth 8 points to the winner, with 4 points for second and 2 for third. If either Lilikoi or Two Illicit can win on Wednesday, they will start breathing down the neck of Jennifer Eccles, who has 15 points.

But this is no two-horse race. Annie’s Song (NZ) (Darci Brahma), Darcee Que (NZ) (Darci Brahma) and Snowdeel (NZ) (Dundeel) are all last-start winners, while Rendition (NZ) (Pierro), Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel) and Aalaalune (NZ) (Reliable Man) have been stakes-placed.

The Royal Stakes will be run as Race 4 during Ellerslie’s star-sudded New Year’s Day meeting, with a start time of 2:13pm.

View the full schedule and leaderboard here

Race Preview:

# Horse Draw Comments Trainer Jockey
1 Two Illicit 6 Two Illicit (NZ) (Jimmy Choux) has made a big impression in her short career to date. She finished third on debut in late September, then won at Ellerslie the following month. Stepping straight up to stakes level for her third start, she scored a brilliant come-from-behind win in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m). She then lined up in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) on Boxing Day, unleashing a powerful late burst to finish second behind Filly of the Year Series leader Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle). Roger James & Robert Wellwood Vinnie Colgan
2 Lilikoi 3 After glimpses of promise in two starts as a two-year-old, Lilikoi (NZ) (Charm Spirit) has come good this season. She won stylishly first-up at Taupo, then finished second at Taupo and Awapuni. Stepping up to 1600 metres last start in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes, she burst clear in the straight to win by a length and three-quarters. She will be ridden by champion Sydney-based Kiwi jockey James McDonald, who won three races on Boxing Day including the Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) and the Eight Carat Classic. Jamie Richards James McDonald
3 Annie's Song 16 Annie's Song (NZ) (Darci Brahma) has shown real talent with two wins this season at her home track of Ruakaka. In between times, she has had an unlucky seventh at the same venue and a fifth in the Group 3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) and seventh in the Trevor Eagle Memorial. Chris Gibbs & Michelle Bradley Samantha Collett
4 Rendition 7 While she is still a maiden, Rendition (NZ) (Pierro) has placed in five of her seven starts including the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) and the Listed 3YO Salver (2100m). Peter & Dawn Williams Opie Bosson
5 Showbeel 17 Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel) showed a good turn of foot to win with ease at Rotorua in late November, then stepped up to black-type level with a strong-finishing thid in the Eulogy Stakes. She finished only eighth in the Eight Carat Classic on Boxing Day, but raced three wide without cover and was hampered on more than one occasion. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman
6 Aalaalune 15 Aalaalune (NZ) (Reliable Man) performed at the highest level last season, finishing second in the Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) and fourth in the Group 1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m). She scored an overdue maiden win by four lengths at Te Rapa in November, then finished fourth in the Eulogy Stakes. She lost all chance in the Eight Carat when she nearly fell at the 600-metre mark, eventually finishing second-last. Team Rogerson Ryan Elliot
7 Greyvee 19 Jimmy Choux filly Greyvee (NZ) was a two-length maiden winner on a heavy track in September, but has performed consistently well across a range of conditions in her five starts since then. She fought hard for second at this track in her most recent appearance on December 12. This is her first start at stakes level. Keith & Gavin Opie Mick Dee
8 Bergamot 10 Third on debut behind her stablemate Showbeel, promising filly Bergamot (NZ) (Sweet Orange) won at Matamata in her second appearance. Her only other start came in the 3YO Salver, where she finished a close fifth. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Michael McNab
9 Celestial Nymph 13 Carrying the colours of the race sponsor, Valachi Downs principal Kevin Hickman, Celestial Nymph (NZ) (Makfi) has tackled black-type company in her two starts since winning on debut at Te Aroha. She was unplaced in the Trevor Eagle Memorial, then was badly hampered when a horse sadly broke down at the 500-metre mark of the 3YO Salver. She recovered well to finish fifth. Stephen Marsh Craig Grylls
10 Coco Baci 1 An eye-catching fourth on debut in late November, Coco Baci (Savabeel) flew home to win at this course over 1600 metres in her second start. She fought on solidly for fifth in the Eight Carat on Boxing Day. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Matt Cameron
11 Darcee Que 2 Fifth in all of her first three starts, Darcee Que (NZ) (Darci Brahma) took a big step forward with a strong maiden win over 1600 metres at this course last start. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman
12 Diamonds Galore 14 Diamonds Galore (NZ) (Tavistock) won by almost three lengths at Avondale in October, then was badly blocked in the straight when unplaced in the Soliloquy Stakes. She made up ground late in the race when ninth in the Eight Carat. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Jonathan Riddell
13 Snowdeel 8 Dundeel filly Snowdeel (NZ) led all the way for an easy win over 1600 metres at Tauranga last time out, the third start of her career. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Danielle Johnson
14 Kaipaki Road 5 Kaipaki Road (NZ) (El Roca) was an eye-catching runner in last week's Eight Carat, making up good ground late in the race to finish seventh. Stephen Marsh
15 Nothing Compares 4 Nothing Compares (NZ) (Jakkalberry) won well at New Plymouth two starts back, then finished a close fourth at Matamata. She will require one scratching to make the Royal Stakes field. Stephen Autridge
16 Anna Cecilia 18 A winner of one of her eight starts, Anna Cecilia (More Than Ready) has also tackled some of the best age-group company in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) and Group 2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m). She was beaten by 3.9 lengths last start when ninth over 1600 metres at this course. She needs two scratchings to get a run here. Lauren Brennan
17 Meghan 12 So You Think filly Meghan (NZ) fought hard for second at this course in her most recent appearance. She has yet to win a race, but has finished second, third or fourth in three of her five starts. She is three scratchings away from earning a start in the Royal Stakes. Lance Noble
18 Shocking Penny 11 Shocking Penny (NZ) (Shocking) was a solid third here in her most recent start. She needs four scratchings to make the field. Moira & Kieran Murdoch
19 Elisa Carolina 9 Elisa Carolina (NZ) (Makfi) has had only two starts, finishing fourth in the most recent. She is a long way from getting a start in this race, needing five scratchings to make the field. Stephen Marsh

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