Awapuni Hosts Special Stop in NZB Filly of the Year Series

28 February 2023

The Group Two  Little Avondale Stud Lowland Stakes (2100m) will be run as Race 7 at Awapuni tomorrow.

The 2022-23 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series heads to Awapuni on Wednesday for its ninth leg – a special edition of the $120,000 Group Two Little Avondale Stud Lowland Stakes (2100m). 

The Lowland Stakes is being sponsored for the 10th year in a row by Little Avondale Stud, and the race is named after a champion filly bred by Nancy Williams – grandmother of Little Avondale co-owner Sam Williams.

First run by the Masterton Racing Club in 1972, the Lowland Stakes is these days held at Hastings. However, the devastation caused earlier this month by Cyclone Gabrielle, and the significant role being played for the local community by Hawke’s Bay Racing ever since, have forced a last-minute relocation to Awapuni.

“We had big plans for a celebration of our involvement in a race that means so much to Little Avondale, but understandably Cyclone Gabrielle has changed all that,” Catriona Williams told NZ Racing Desk.

“Hawke’s Bay Racing have had so much to deal with, opening up their venue to people and animals affected by the cyclone, but they’ve been fantastic along with the team at Awapuni in still making it happen.

“Part of it will be a punters’ club that Little Avondale have put $1,000 into, and everything on the day will be geared towards a donation to the Hawke’s Bay Flood Appeal.

“While it’s terrible what’s happened, we still want to make a celebration of this year’s Lowland Stakes and a big part of that is anyone who wishes to come along does so and adds to the fund-raising effort.”

From a racing perspective, the Lowland Stakes is a significant stop along the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series road. Not only is it worth 8 points to the winner, 4 for second and 2 for third, but it is also a key lead-up to the Group One New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 18.

Pennyweka (NZ) (Satono Aladdin) and Contagious (NZ) (Proisir) are the only two runners in this year’s field who already have NZB Filly of the Year Series points to their name. Pennyweka picked up 3 points from her second placing in the Group Three Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) on January 28, while Contagious earned 2 points with her last-start third in the Group Two David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m).

But there is plenty of quality through the rest of the line-up, with Diss Is Dramatic (NZ) (Dissident) being a two-time stakes winner, Family Ties (NZ) (Contributer) taking out last month’s Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m), and Sheez Dominant (NZ) (Vanbrugh) winning the Listed Wanganui Guineas (1340m) before a runner-up finish in the Group Three Wellington Stakes (1600m).

The Little Avondale Stud Lowland Stakes will be run as Race 7 at Awapuni on Wednesday, with a start time of 5.34pm.

1 Diss Is Dramatic 9 Bought by syndicators Go Racing for only $60,000 at Karaka 2021, Diss Is Dramatic (NZ) (Dissident) has surpassed that price tag with $123,820 in stakes from her 12-start career. She has won three races, headed by the Group Three War Decree Stakes (1600m) in October, along with last season's Listed Champagne Stakes (1200m). She was a close second two starts ago behind subsequent Group Three Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) winner Mazzolino (NZ) (Savabeel), but then she floundered in heavy track conditions and finished a well-beaten seventh in the Desert Gold itself. Karaka 2021, Book 1 Go Racing, $60,000 Lisa Latta Joe Doyle
2 Family Ties 12 Te Akau Racing's Family Ties (NZ) (Contributer) was bought by David Ellis for $60,000 from the Ready to Run Sale. She has had six starts for two wins and a placing, going to a new level with a powerful last-start victory in the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth on February 4. 2021 Ready to Run Sale DC Ellis, $60,000 Mark Walker Opie Bosson
3 Pennyweka 10 Pennyweka (NZ) (Satono Aladdin) has won one of her seven starts, scoring in impressive style in a $60,000 race on Livamol Classic Day at Hastings in October. Since then she has finished third in the Group Three Wellington Stakes (1600m), ninth in the Group Two Wellington Guineas (1400m) and a last-start second in the Group Three Desert Gold Stakes (1600m). That most recent race earned her 3 points in the NZB Filly of the Year Series.     Jim Wallace Ryan Elliot
4 Sheez Dominant 8 Vanbrugh filly Sheez Dominant (NZ) rose to prominence with a stylish win in the Listed Wanganui Guineas (1340m) on September 3. She ran third and fourth in her next two starts, then returned to black-type company with a strong second in the Group Three Wellington Stakes (1600m). Freshened over the summer, she resumed with a ninth in the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) on February 4.     Fraser Auret Lisa Allpress
5 Imarichgirl 7 Since winning a maiden by more than three lengths at Avondale in November, Imarichgirl (NZ) (Mongolian Khan) has performed solidly in stakes company. She was a highly creditable fourth in the Group Three Eulogy Stakes (1600m) on December 17, then was badly blocked in the straight when ninth in the Group Two Royal Stakes (2000m) on New Year's Day. She was freshened after that and returned to action with a fourth over 1500 metres on February 18. Karaka 2021, Book 1 Psd, Res $80,000 Andrew Forsman  
6 Contagious 2 Contagious (NZ) (Proisir) took eight starts to win her first race, but she showed plenty of promise during that time with five placings including in the Listed Auckland Futurity Stakes (1400m). She broke through for a well-deserved maiden win on January 18, then stepped up to the big time with a last-start third in the Group Two David & Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic (2000m). She has 2 points in the NZB Filly of the Year Series. 2021 South Island Sale RA James/R Wellwood, $41,000 Roger James & Robert Wellwood  
7 Flamenco 5 Fifth on debut in her only spring appearance, Flamenco (NZ) (Tavistock) has come back as a different filly in 2023. She ran second on January 4 behind the highly rated Islington Lass (NZ) (Proisir), who has won impressively again since then. After doing things wrong at Hastings in late January, she took a big step forward with a powerful finish to win a maiden race at New Plymouth on February 17.     Johno Benner & Hollie Wynyard Kozzi Asano
8 Val Di Zoldo 4 Val Di Zoldo (NZ) (War Decree) was bought for $285,000 from the Valachi Downs Unreserved Young & Racing Stock Dispersal on Gavelhouse Plus last year. Already a stakes performer as a two-year-old last season, she has added a win and three placings so far in her three-year-old campaign, along with excellent fourths in the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m), Group Two Royal Stakes (2000m) and Group Three Soliloquy Stakes (1400m).     Tony Pike Michael McNab
9 Sealed With A Kiss 3 The second filly in this field to have been purchased by David Ellis at the 2021 Ready to Run Sale, the well-bred Sealed With A Kiss (NZ) (Tarzino) was bought for $250,000. She was a debut winner at Hastings on December 7 and has had excuses since then, including racing extremely greenly when unplaced in the Group Three Eulogy Stakes (1600m). 2021 Ready to Run Sale DC Ellis, $250,000 Mark Walker Sam Weatherley
10 Sequoia Star 15 Redwood filly Sequoia Star (NZ) has had seven starts for a win, a second, a third and a fourth. Her first start at stakes level came in last month's Group Three Desert Gold Stakes (1600m), where she failed to handle the Heavy10 track conditions and was beaten by more than 20 lengths.     John Bary Sam Spratt
11 In The Loop 6 A granddaughter of VRC Oaks (2500m) winner Arborea (Imperial Prince) and closely related to New Zealand Cup (3200m) hero Mondorani (NZ) (Burgundy), In The Loop (NZ) (Reliable Man) impressed with a come-from-behind maiden win at Avondale on November 23. She was unplaced in the Group Three Eulogy Stakes (1600m) in her next start, then resumed over an unsuitable distance of 1500 metres at Pukekohe on February 18.     Mark Brooks  
12 Sky Dancer 11 Sky Dancer (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) began her career with an admirably consistent sequence of placings, finishing third at Hastings, Rotorua and Te Rapa. Her only other start came in the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m), where she ran seventh after being blocked in the straight.     Stephen Marsh Craig Grylls
13 Eshay 1 Eshay (NZ) (Contributer) is still a maiden but showed good signs over 1600 metres at New Plymouth last start, charging home from last to be beaten by a nose.     Peter Didham  
14 Glitzabella 14 Glitzabella (NZ) (Turn Me Loose) caught the eye with a big run for second in a maiden race at Hastings on January 26, then stepped up to Group Two level but was unplaced in the David & Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa.     Michael Moroney & Pam Gerard  
15 Benefactor 13 Benefactor (NZ) (Contributer) is on the ballot and requires a scratching to make the field. She has had five starts so far, with her best performance being her most recent - a strong-finishing third over 1600 metres at New Plymouth. Karaka 2021, Book 2 Lisa Latta Racing, $24,000 Lisa Latta