Group 1 New Zealand Oaks a Thrilling Finale to NZB Filly of the Year Series

Reigning Filly of the Year Bonneval winning the 2017 New Zealand Oaks
Reigning Filly of the Year Bonneval winning the 2017 New Zealand Oaks

The curtain will come down on the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series for another year on Saturday when an outstanding field lines up in the tenth and final leg, the $400,000 Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.

There are only two fillies who can claim the coveted title of Filly of the Year for 2017-18 – Dijon Bleu (NZ) (Burgundy) and Contessa Vanessa (NZ) (Bullbars).

The Lisa Latta-trained Dijon Bleu’s season came to a premature end in February because of a minor injury, but she has compiled an imposing total of 30 points with wins in the Group 3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m), Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) and Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic (2000m), plus placings in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1550m) and Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m).

Dijon Bleu’s tally of 30 points would have been enough to win the title in any of the last six seasons. However, the winner of the New Zealand Oaks receives 12 points, which puts Contessa Vanessa within reach of a come-from-behind triumph.

The Team Rogerson filly has earned 19.5 points through wins in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Group 3 Sunline Vase (2100m), along with placings in the Eulogy Stakes and Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m). Victory in the Oaks would lift her to 31.5 points.

Among the hardest for Contessa Vanessa to beat on Saturday might be the star South Island filly Savvy Coup (NZ) (Savabeel), an impressive winner of the Eulogy Stakes and the Group 3 Lowland Stakes (2100m). The Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained runner has 12 points to her name and could move into second place with an Oaks win.

The field also includes the New Zealand 1000 Guineas winner Hasahalo (NZ) (Savabeel), along with stakes performers Belle du Nord (NZ) (Reliable Man), Gold Spice (NZ) (Rock ‘n’ Pop), Milseain (NZ) (Tavistock), Mark Two (NZ) (Pins), Marcellina (NZ) (Savabeel), Caricature (NZ) (Power), Treasure (NZ) (Mastercraftsman), Blanco Belle (NZ) (Cape Blanco), Swing Note (Encosta de Lago) and Hot Fuss (NZ) (Pins).

The New Zealand Oaks will be run as Race 8 on Saturday with a start time of 4.58pm.

# Horse Draw Comments Trainer Jockey
1 Hasahalo 11 Savabeel filly Hasahalo (NZ) scored a brilliant four-length win in the other Group 1 event in the Filly of the Year Series - the New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton. She hasn't had a lot of luck in three unplaced appearances since then. Stephen McKee Sam Spratt
2 Savvy Coup 13 The clear favourite for Saturday's $400,000 classic, Savvy Coup (NZ) (Savabeel) has had two wins and two placings in her last four starts - all at stakes level. She scored a dominant victory in the Group 3 Lowland Stakes (2100m) two weeks ago. Michael & Matthew Pitman Chris Johnson
3 Contessa Vanessa 16 The only filly in the field with a chance to win the Filly of the Year Series title, Contessa Vanessa (NZ) (Bullbars) has won the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Group 3 Sunline Vase (2100m) and placed in the Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) and Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1550m). Team Rogerson Johnathan Parkes
4 Belle du Nord 2 A multiple Group 1 placegetter, Belle du Nord (NZ) (Reliable Man) has had two previous starts at Trentham - a four-length victory in a two-year-old race last season, and a close second in the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) in January. Emma-Lee & David Browne Vinnie Colgan
5 Gold Spice 1 Lightly raced filly Gold Spice (NZ) (Rock 'n' Pop) was an impressive maiden winner two starts back, then produced a strong finish for second in the Sunline Vase. Graham Richardson & Gavin Parker Jake Bayliss
6 Milseain 5 A full-sister to multiple Group 1 winner Werther (NZ) (Tavistock) and New Zealand Cup hero Gobstopper (NZ) (Tavistock), Milseain (NZ) (Tavistock) has had four starts for a win and three stakes placings. She was second in the Lowland Stakes last start. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Jason Waddell
7 Mark Two 14 Mark Two (NZ) (Pins) has had three starts for two seconds and a fourth. She was a fast-finishing fourth in the Royal Stakes, then second in the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic (2000m). She has subsequently won a trial. Stephen Marsh Danielle Johnson
8 Marcellina 9 While still a maiden, Marcellina (NZ) (Savabeel) has finished in the first five in all but two of her seven starts. She was third in the Royal Stakes, fifth in the Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic and third in the Sunline Vase. Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman Matt Cameron
9 Caricature 17 Well-bred filly Caricature (NZ) (Power) has had a win and two placings from four starts, finishing second in the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) and third in the Lowland Stakes. Tony Pike Leith Innes
10 Treasure 4 A dominant winner of the Oaks Prelude, Treasure (NZ) (Mastercraftsman) was the Oaks favourite until her unlucky last-start ninth in the Lowland Stakes. Tony Pike Michael McNab
11 Blanco Belle 15 Blanco Belle (NZ) (Cape Blanco) has picked up stakes placings this season in the Listed Fillies' Stakes (1200m) and the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m). She has finished fifth in the Oaks Prelude and Sunline Vase in her last two appearances. Susan Rainford Alysha Collett
12 Swing Note 10 Swing Note (Encosta de Lago) placed in the Listed Zacinto Stakes (1600m) in October, then finished a close fifth in the New Zealand 1000 Guineas. In her most recent start she fought gamely for a close-up fourth in the Lowland Stakes. Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards Opie Bosson
13 Cead Mile Failte 18 Tavistock filly Cead Mile Failte (NZ) has had just three starts for a win and two placings. This is her first attempt at black-type level. Johno Benner & Hollie Wynyard Rosie Myers
14 Hot Fuss 6 The Kevin and Pam Hughes-trained Hot Fuss (NZ) (Pins) has had a win and six placings from her 15 starts. She was second in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) in the spring and has placed in all of her last three appearances. Kevin & Pam Hughes Darryl Bradley
15 Lincoln Melody 8 Lincoln Melody (NZ) (Savabeel) cleared maidens at Tauherenikau early last month, and was eighth after a wide run at Awapuni last start. Lisa Latta Mark Du Plessis
16 Terra Sancta 7 The third runner in the field for Cambridge trainer Tony Pike, Terra Sancta (NZ) (Pierro) won on debut and was a last-start eighth in the Sunline Vase. Tony Pike Samantha Collett
17 Le Sablier 3 Le Sablier (NZ) (Tavistock) was rated a $34 chance for the Lowland Stakes last start, but caught the eye with a big late run from last to finish fifth. Karen Fursdon Holly Andrew
18 Misstumut 12 Azamour filly Misstumut (NZ) has picked up one placing from five appearances to date - a last-start third over 2100 metres at Pukekohe. Ben Ropiha Robert Hannam

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