Top-of-the-Table Clash in Desert Gold

Current FOTY leader Jennifer Eccles (NZ) has earned 15 points.
Current FOTY leader Jennifer Eccles (NZ) has earned 15 points.

The two fillies at the head of the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series points table will go head to head in Saturday’s sixth leg, the $70,000 Group Three New Zealand Bloodstock Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) at Trentham.

Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) holds the top spot with 15 points, while Loire (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice) sits in second place.

Loire has the upper hand in the high-class pair’s previous meetings. When they met in the Group Three Gold Trail Stakes (1200m), Loire finished third and Jennifer Eccles was fourth.

They finished first and second in the Group One gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November, with Loire beating Jennifer Eccles by a long neck. The third placegetter was Travelling Light (NZ) (El Roca), who has subsequently won at Group One level.

While Loire has been off the scene since that 1000 Guineas, Jennifer Eccles has subsequently enhanced her reputation with a dominant victory in the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. The runner-up in that race, Two Illicit (NZ) (Jimmy Choux), later won the Group Two Royal Stakes (2000m).

The stage is now set for a thrilling rematch between two of the stars of what looks like an exceptional group of fillies.

But they may not get it all their own way. Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel) has 1.5 Filly of the Year Series points to her name after a strong placing in last month’s Group Three Eulogy Stakes (1600m), while Queen Kamada (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) was narrowly beaten last start by the top-class Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel).  

Grand De Flora (NZ) (Savabeel) is a daughter of multiple Group One winner Daffodil (NZ) (No Excuse Needed), and she produced an eye-catching finish for fifth last start in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m).

The New Zealand Bloodstock Desert Gold Stakes is worth 6 points to the winner, with 3 points for second and 1.5 for third.

The Desert Gold Stakes will be run as Race 5 on Saturday with a start time of 2:40pm.

# Horse Draw Comments Trainer Jockey
1 Loire 5 Two months have passed since Loire (NZ) (Redoute's Choice) last raced, but that most recent appearance was a brilliant victory in one of New Zealand's most important races - the Group One gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton. She has subsequently lost her lead in the Filly of the Year Series, but has the chance to return to the top spot this weekend. She won a recent trial at Cambridge. Tony Pike Michael McNab
2 Jennifer Eccles 16 Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) finished second to Loire in the 1000 Guineas, and she has since leapfrogged her to the top of the Filly of the Year table with an outstanding win in the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m). Shaune Ritchie Sam Weatherley
3 Belle Plaisir 2 Belle Plaisir (NZ) (Proisir) has won two of her six starts, and she was a good last-start third behind star filly Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel) at Awapuni. However, in her only previous start at black-type level, she finished last in the Group Three Eulogy Stakes (1600m). Lucy Tanner Johnathan Parkes
4 Showbeel 4 After a stylish maiden win at Rotorua in November, Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel) stepped up in class and finished a commentable third in the Eulogy Stakes. She didn't have a lot of luck in her most recent start, finishing eighth in the Eight Carat Classic after a tough wide run. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Opie Bosson
5 Trifolium 8 Trifolium (Krupt) began her career with two impressive wins, then she finished second in the Listed Fillies' Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui in September. She has placed only once in four subsequent starts, but has struck bad luck on more than one occasion. Fraser Auret Lisa Allpress
6 Lavaglo 7 In four starts to date, Lavaglo (NZ) (Rock 'n' Pop) has recorded a win, a second placing and two fifths. The win came with a powerful come-from-behind performance during the New Zealand Cup carnival at Riccarton in November. Daniel Miller Rory Hutchings
7 Cinzento 10 Along with Jennifer Eccles, Cinzento (NZ) (Dalghar) gives Adrian Clark's Challenge Syndicates a strong two-pronged attack on the Desert Gold Stakes. Cinzento won at Taupo in the spring and has consistently been competitive in strong company, taking on the likes of Harlech (NZ) (Darci Brahma) and Germanicus (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle). John Bary Sam Collett
8 Grand De Flora 3 By champion sire Savabeel out of multiple Group One winner Daffodil (NZ) (No Excuse Needed), the blue-blooded Grand De Flora (NZ) won on debut at Hastings in November. Her only other start was in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m), where she produced an eye-catching late finish for fifth. Roger James & Robert Wellwood
9 Kellys Inspiration 14 Burgundy filly Kellys Inspiration (NZ) has shown bright promise in her six-start career, winning at Waipukurau and placing on another two occasions. She was a last-start sixth behind Probabeel. Lisa Latta Robert Hannam
10 Porotene Charm 11 Stratford-trained Porotene Charm (NZ) (Jimmy Choux) cleared maiden grades with a strong win at Otaki last month. Her only appearance since then was a third placing at Wanganui on January 9. Trudy Keegan Rosie Myers
11 Power 'n' Passion 15 Power 'n' Passion (NZ) (Power) was a convincing maiden winner in the spring. She finished sixth in the Eulogy Stakes two starts back, and didn't have a lot of luck when seventh behind Probabeel last start. Gary Vile Danielle Johnson
12 Queen Kamada 9 Her maiden win came by only by a half-head, and she was only a fair fifth in the Eulogy Stakes, but Queen Kamada (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) took a big step up in her most recent start. She was tackled by the top-class Probabeel in the home straight but fought for all she was worth, staying with her for an excellent second. Anne Herbert Trudy Thornton
13 Selenelion 13 Well-bred filly Selenelion (NZ) (Charm Spirit) has improved with every start, culminating in a runaway maiden win at Rotorua on December 27. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Matt Cameron
14 Starring Role 1 Starring Role (NZ) (Showcasing) is still a maiden, but has shown great consistency with three second placings and three fourth placings in her eight starts so far. She has been producing strong late finishes over 1400 metres. Glenn Old Jasmine Fawcett
15 Zipitsweetie 6 Canterbury visitor Zipitsweetie (Uncle Mo) was eighth on debut at Kurow on December 30, but improved significantly for a good third in her only other start on January 3. Michael & Matthew Pitman Ryan Maloney
16 Ivory Madonna 12 Ivory Madonna (NZ) (Jimmy Choux) has had only one start, finishing fifth at Hastings on New Year's Day. Steven Carey Leah Hemi

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