NZB Filly of the Year Series Springs to Life with Gold Trail Stakes

8 September 2023

Last season’s superstars have given them a hard act to follow, but the class of 2023-24 get their time to shine when the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series kicks off in Saturday’s $120,000 Group Three HBPB Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings.

The Gold Trail Stakes is the first leg of the NZB Filly of the Year Series, which is now in its 52nd year. The prestigious series spans 11 races between September and March, over distances ranging from 1200 up to 2400 metres.

The 11 races are always keenly contested, with the best fillies of their generation vying for significant prizes for the owner, trainer, and breeder of the ultimate winner. The NZB Filly of the Year winner immediately becomes a highly valuable breeding proposition and earns her connections $50,000 in bonus cheques including $10,000 for her breeder, $10,000 for her trainer, and $30,000 for her owner.

The Filly of the Year Series honour roll features some of the greats of the New Zealand turf through the last five decades, such as La Mer (NZ) (Copenhagen), Noble Heights (NZ) (Sir Tristram), Our Flight (NZ) (Imperial Guard), Solveig (NZ) (Imposing), Snap (NZ) (Kingdom Bay), Tycoon Lil (Last Tycoon) and Savannah Success (Success Express), who is these days best known as the dam of super-sire Savabeel.

But even by the high standards of the NZB Filly of the Year Series, the 2022-23 edition was something very special. Series winner Legarto (NZ) (Proisir) scored spectacular victories in the Group One New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m), Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Group Three Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) on home soil, then crossed the Tasman and became the first New Zealand-trained winner of the prestigious Group One Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.

Filly Of The Year winner Legarto (NZ)

But incredibly, Legarto’s trans-Tasman Group One double was matched by two other major players in that season’s Filly of the Year Series.

The eventual series runner-up Pennyweka (NZ) (Satono Aladdin) became only the third filly in history to win both the New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham and the Group One Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick.

Prowess (NZ) (Proisir) finished only sixth on the Filly of the Year standings, courtesy of her win in the Group Two David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) and her third placing in the Soliloquy Stakes. But she rose to stardom in the summer and autumn with victories in the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), against older horses at weight-for-age in the Group One New Zealand Stakes (2000m), and against Sydney’s finest fillies in the Group One Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).

It all adds up to some very big shoes to fill this season, but there are plenty of talented young fillies lining up to take their shot in Saturday’s first leg.

The Gold Trail Stakes has assembled a field of 14, including Group Two winner Impendabelle (Impending), Listed winners Chantilly Lace (NZ) (U S Navy Flag) and Loch Katrine (NZ) (Ardrossan), the Group One-placed Tulsi (The Autumn Sun) and Listed-placed Glamour Tycoon (Written Tycoon).

Others such as the undefeated Quintessa (NZ) (Shamus Award) and highly rated Orchestral (NZ) (Savabeel) have made a big impression with their victories in lower grades.

The winner of the Gold Trail Stakes will pick up 6 points in the Filly of the Year Series, with 3 points for second and 1.5 for third.

The HBPB Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Gold Trail Stakes will be run as Race 7 at Hastings on Saturday, with a scheduled start time of 3.23pm.