More Ellerslie Excellence for Orchestral (NZ)

18 February 2024

Orchestral (NZ). Photo: Race Images

One of the standout performers on a blockbuster Karaka Millions night at Ellerslie on January 27, Orchestral (NZ) (Savabeel) returned to the same venue and scored another sparkling victory in Saturday’s $175,000 Group Two Eagle Technology Avondale Guineas (2100m).

The Barneswood Farm-bred filly was offered by Haunui Farm in Book 1 of Karaka 2022, where trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood bought her for $625,000. She has now had seven starts for four wins, two seconds and $977,175 in stakes with the promise of so much more still to come.

Second and first in two late-season starts as a two-year-old, Orchestral began to warm into her three-year-old campaign with a placing in the Group Three Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) on December 9 and an easy win at Pukekohe on New Year’s Day.

But she saved her breakthrough moment for one of New Zealand racing’s biggest stages, exploding out of the pack to win the $1.5m TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m) by three and a half lengths.

What she did in Saturday’s Avondale Guineas was no less impressive. Ridden by Craig Grylls, she settled in sixth place before looping around the outside to lodge her challenge at the turn into the home straight.

She swept up on the outside of Just As Sharp (NZ) (Swiss Ace), who initially rose to the challenge and fought back strongly. But Orchestral went to another level with 200 metres remaining, striding clear and powering ahead to win by four lengths.

“That was very good,” Grylls said. “We got a perfect run, about four back and one off. There was good speed on and she relaxed beautifully, which was great to see in her first time up over ground.

“She got to Just As Sharp very easily in the straight. From about the 200 metres to the finish post, it felt like she was getting quicker and quicker every 50 metres or so. She wanted to keep going past the line too and would hardly blow a candle out now, which is a good sign for the step up to the Derby trip. It’s exciting.”

Orchestral is now a commanding favourite for the $1m Group One Trackside New Zealand Derby (2400m) at the same course on March 2.

James and Wellwood train the exciting filly for long-time stable clients Colin and Helen Litt.

“They have been loyal supporters of our stable for a long time,” James said. “We’ve gone to the sales with great ambition on a number of occasions, but haven’t always come away with the results. But at this stage, this filly is looking like she might be one out of the box. We have to recognise that and treat her accordingly, and hopefully we can do all we can to optimise this ability that she has.

“It was a pretty special performance today. Looking at the head-on replay, it’s great to see that she was galloping lovely and true out on her own down the straight.

“It was very pleasing to see that the race was run at a genuine pace. I’ve always been a great advocate for pace in a race, and it ensures that the best horse wins. I noticed that she was very strong past the line as well, which was another good sign from a Derby point of view.”

A full-brother to Orchestral was offered by Haunui Farm during Book 1 of Karaka 2024, where he was bought for $310,000 by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Orchestral headed an all-Karaka trifecta in Saturday’s Avondale Guineas. Runner-up Just As Sharp (NZ) was a $145,000 purchase by Westbury Stud from Book 1 of Karaka 2022. He has had eight starts for three wins, three placings and $221,010 in prize-money.

The third placegetter was Interlinked (NZ) (Savabeel), who is trained in Australia by Victorian-based Kiwi couple Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young. Busuttin Racing paid $100,000 to buy him from the 2022 Ready to Run Sale, and he has so far earned $104,222 from a five-start career that has featured two wins, two placings and a fourth.

Vendor Haunui Farm
Purchaser Mr RA James/Mr R Wellwood (Waikato)
Breeding Savabeel – Symphonic
Sale Lot 635, Karaka 2022 Book 1, $625,000
Bred by Barneswood Farm Ltd