Railway Set to Provide Stellar Start to Sprint Triple Crown

Volpe Veloce is one of the star-studded field of sprinters tackling Leg 1 of the NZB Insurance Triple Crown Sprint Series.
Volpe Veloce is one of the star-studded field of sprinters tackling Leg 1 of the NZB Insurance Triple Crown Sprint Series.

A week on from a thrilling win by True Enough (Nom du Jeu) in the first leg of the NZB Insurance Weight-for-Age Triple Crown, the NZB Insurance Sprint Triple Crown is set to get off to a spectacular start of its own in Wednesday’s $200,000 Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie.

Announced in September, the NZB Insurance 3x Triple Crown Series provide a significant boost to some of New Zealand racing’s prestigious summer and autumn Group races with a total of $300,000 in bonuses up for grabs.

The Weight-For-Age Triple Crown was the first to get underway with True Enough’s hard-fought win in the $200,000 Group 1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m) on Boxing Day at Ellerslie. It will be followed by the $400,000 Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 8, and the $200,000 Group 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 7.

The races in the Sprint Triple Crown are the Railway, the $250,000 Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on January 18, and the $200,000 Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on February 8.

The third Series is the Fillies and Mares Triple Crown, made up of the $70,000 Group 3 Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on March 14, the $200,000 Group 1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 4, and the $100,000 Group 2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on April 25.

In each of the three Series, there is a $100,000 Triple Crown Bonus available for any horse who can win all three races.

Wednesday’s field has attracted a star-studded field of sprinters. There are three Group 1 winners, including the last two winners of this race. Three others in the field have been Group 1-placed, along with 10 other individual stakes winners.

There is some trans-Tasman interest in the form of Winter Bride (Not a Single Doubt), who has won at Group 3 level and has been Group 2-placed.

The Railway will be run as Race 9 at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, with a start time of 5:08pm.

View the full schedule and leader boards here.

Race Preview:

# Horse Draw Comments Trainer Jockey
1 Endless Drama 17 The well-travelled Endless Drama (Lope de Vega) placed in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 Lockinge Stakes (1600m), then joined Chris Waller's stable in Sydney, where he won the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) and placed behind champion stablemate Winx (Street Cry) in the same race. Since joining Tony Pike's stable, he has won the Group 2 Easter Handicap (1600m) and the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m), beating the likes of Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) and Te Akau Shark (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle). He also returned to Australia and placed in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m). He has a horror draw of 17 to contend with in this race. Tony Pike Leith Innes
2 Volpe Veloce 1 Volpe Veloce (Foxwedge) won this race two years ago. She continued to perform at a high level last season, collecting Group 2 wins with impressive performances in the Westbury Classic (1400m) and the Japan-NZ International Trophy (1600m). This is her first start since a two-race stint in Sydney in September, but she has won a recent trial. Graham Richardson Michael McNab
3 Julius 10 Julius (NZ) (Swiss Ace) was once one of the rising stars of New Zealand sprinting, winning the Group 3 Concorde Handicap (1200m) and Darley Plate (1200m) and being beaten by a nose by Melody Belle when second in the Foxbridge Plate. But a serious tendon injury threatened to end his career, and he spent more than a year on the sidelines before returning to action in late November. His comeback has already been a triumphant one, carrying 60 kilograms to victory in the Group 3 J Swap Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa last start. He drops to 56 kilograms for this. John Bell Jason Waddell
4 Santa Monica 15 Santa Monica (NZ) (Per Incanto) defied odds of $77 to win this race 12 months ago, and she placed in the Group 3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) at the same venue later in that campaign. She has yet to place in eight starts this season, but finished solidly for sixth under 60 kilograms in the Listed Hallmark Stud Handicap (1200m) on Boxing Day. She used the same race as her Railway lead-up last year, finishing second on that occasion under 53 kilograms. Stephen Ralph Trudy Thornton
5 Dawn Patrol 3 Group 1-placed last season in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Dawn Patrol (NZ) (Dawn Approach) has emerged as a sprinter this season with a victory in the Group 3 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m) at Rotorua. He was doing his best work at the end of the race when sixth over this course and distance on December 7. Frank Ritchie Jonathan Riddell
6 Speedy Meady 7 Speedy Meady (NZ) (Swiss Ace) has won or placed in 10 of his 13 starts. He dead-heated for first in the Group 3 Cambridge Breeders' Stakes (1200m) in April, and this season he has placed in the Listed Counties Bowl (1100m) and Hallmark Stud Handicap. Stephen Ralph Chris Dell
7 Winter Bride 11 Australian raider Winter Bride (Not a Single Doubt) has performed creditably in strong company across the Tasman. Her nine wins include the Group 3 How Now Stakes (1200m) and Northwood Plume Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, and the Group 3 Winona Girl Quality (1200m) at Randwick. She has also placed in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Randwick and Group 2 Moreton Cup (1200m) in Brisbane. In her last two starts, she has been beaten by only four lengths in Group 1 sprints in Melbourne. She galloped impressively at Ellerslie before the start of the Boxing Day race meeting. She will be ridden by James McDonald, who won three races on Boxing Day including the Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) and the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m). Toby & Trent Edmonds James McDonald
8 Media Sensation 6 Media Sensation (I Am Invincible) was a Group 1 winner last season in the New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m). She began this season with a Listed win in the Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) at Te Rapa, then stepped up to 1400 metres and was caught very late in the race when finishing second in the Group 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1400m). She is a previous stakes winner at this track in the Group 3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m). Peter & Dawn Williams
9 Princess Kereru 2 Princess Kereru (NZ) (Pins) was second in this race 12 months ago, beaten by a neck by Santa Monica. Since then, she has won the Group 3 Waikato Stud Plate and Listed NZB Finance Sprint (1200m) and placed in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m), Group 3 Sweynesse Stakes and Group 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes. She has had 12 starts at Ellerslie for three wins and five placings. Ken & Bev Kelso Cameron Lammas
10 Its Destinys Child 14 Unbeaten in two starts in this campaign, Its Destinys Child (NZ) (Castledale) hit a new career high last start with a stakes win in the Listed Counties Bowl. She has previously won at this track. Jenny & Bob Vance Andrew Calder
11 Evalina 16 Stakes-placed in Sydney, Evalina (I Am Invincible) relocated across the Tasman earlier this season and won the Listed Levin Stakes (1200m) in late November. She faces a tough task from the second-to-outside gate in this field. Stephen Marsh Danielle Johnson
12 Dama Zorro 4 Dama Zorro (Husson) has won four of her last five and has been highly impressive winning both starts in this campaign to date. This is her toughest test. David Greene Taiki Yanagida
13 Pretty to Sea 9 Victory in the Hallmark Stud Handicap on Boxing Day earned a start in this race for Pretty to Sea (NZ) (Ocean Park), who had never won at stakes level before that but had placed in a Group 3 in Sydney. She produced a superb finishing burst last week, and carries the same weight of 53 kilograms in this. Stephen Marsh Sam Weatherley
14 Kali 8 Attempting to join Bounding (Lonhro) as only the second three-year-old filly to win this race in the last three decades, Kali (NZ) (Darci Brahma) gets in with a feather weight of 51.5 kilograms. She has won three of her five starts, including the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m). Her only two defeats were a luckless seventh in the Group 3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) and a brave sixth after a horror start in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas. Tony Pike Mick Dee
15 Ronchi 12 Ronchi (NZ) (Stravinsky) can be inconsistent and a frustrating horse to follow, but on his best form he can be well above average. He has won six races and more than $235,000 in stakes, with three of those wins coming at this course. He needs a scratching to make the Railway field. Bruce Wallace & Grant Cooksley
16 Spring Heat 5 A brilliant winner of the Group 3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) here as a three-year-old, Spring Heat (More Than Ready) has had her ups and downs since then. In last year's Group 3 Concorde Handicap over this course and distance, she bucked and took no part in the race. She showed promising signs with a flying finish to win over this course and distance in her most recent start on November 5. She needs two scratchings to earn a start in this race. Lance O'Sullivan & Andrew Scott
17 Mr Universe 13 Mr Universe (NZ) (Smart Missile) had made a good impression with his form through the early part of this campaign, including a dominant win at Awapuni earlier this month. But he needed to win the Hallmark Stud Handicap to guarantee himself a place in the Railway field, and he finished only ninth. Team Rogerson

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