All Eyes on Oaks Contenders in Filly of the Year Series

The current table-topper with 24.5 points is Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle).
The current table-topper with 24.5 points is Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle).

In some years, the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series has already crowned a winner by this stage of the season. In an enthralling 2019-20 Series, that is definitely not the case.

There are now only three legs remaining, with two of them coming in quick succession this week – the $100,000 Group 2 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings on Wednesday, and the $70,000 Group 3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.

Those two races are worth 8 and 6 points respectively to the winner, and they will both serve as crucial lead-ups to the grand finale – the $400,000 Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 14, which is worth 12 points and could potentially decide this season’s winner.

The current table-topper, with an impressive 24.5 points, is Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle). The Shaune Ritchie-trained filly will shoot for a third Group 2 victory for this season when she lines up in Wednesday’s Lowland Stakes.

Breathing down her neck is Loire (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice), who has 18.5 points including a Group 1 triumph in the New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) in November. She has beaten Jennifer Eccles in three of their five meetings this season, and they will continue their rivalry in the Lowland and Oaks. If Loire comes out on top on either or both of those occasions, she could make a strong challenge for the title.

Wednesday’s Lowland Stakes field also features Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel), who won the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) in January. She sits in fourth place on the Filly of the Year Series table, within reach of the leaders with 11.5 points.

Nothing Compares (NZ) (Jakkalberry) and Heart of the Ocean (NZ) (Tavistock) are last-start stakes placegetters, while Unlaced (NZ) (Niagara) has made a good impression winning her last two starts.

The Lowland Stakes will be run as Race 7 during Wednesday’s twilight race meeting at Hastings, with a start time of 5:39pm.

Race Preview:

Horse Draw Comments Trainer Jockey
1 Jennifer Eccles 11 Since placing in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) in November, Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) has won two of her three starts including impressive victories in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and David & Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic (2000m). Shaune Ritchie Jason Waddell
2 Loire 3 Loire (NZ) (Redoute's Choice) produced one of the standout performances of the season to win the 1000 Guineas, and after a brief summer break, she has returned with placings in the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) and the David & Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic. Tony Pike Michael McNab
3 Showbeel 9 Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel) stepped up to the big time with an upset victory over Loire and Jennifer Eccles in the Desert Gold Stakes, and she proved it was no fluke by splitting that pair in a second placing in the David & Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Opie Bosson
4 Nothing Compares 6 Jakkalberry filly Nothing Compares (NZ) won an 1800-metre maiden race in November, and she has placed in both of her last two starts including the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth on February 1. Stephen Autridge Craig Grylls
5 Heart of the Ocean 7 The blue-blooded Heart of the Ocean (NZ) (Tavistock) was a $975,000 purchase at Karaka 2018, and she has recorded a win and three placings from six starts to date. The most recent was in the Oaks Prelude, where she finished strongly for third. Stephen Marsh Danielle Johnson
6 Unlaced 1 Unlaced (NZ) is one of the least experienced runners in this field, with just four starts to her name. She finished second in each of her first two appearances, and she has made a good impression with back-to-back victories in her last two. Guy Lowry & Grant Cullen Michael Coleman
7 Princess Ani Scratched
8 White Hibiscus 5 Carrying the colours of 2010-11 Filly of the Year King's Rose (Redoute's Choice), the promising White Hibiscus (Animal Kingdom) has had four starts for a win, a second, a third and a fourth. Mark Forbes Samantha Collett
9 Kellys Inspiration 4 Kellys Inspiration (Burgundy) showed good ability in the spring with a win and a placing, and she was very unlucky in a Rating 65 race at Awapuni last start. She finished 11th in last month's Desert Gold Stakes. Lisa Latta Ryan Elliot
10 Queen Kamada Scratched
11 Sovereign Express 8 Maiden filly Sovereign Express (Shamexpress) has shown good signs of stamina, finishing well for fourth over 2050 metres at Wanganui last start. Buddy Lammas Ryan Bishop

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