Classy Fillies Face Off

Date: 19 Feb 2022

Classy Fillies Face Off


Richard Edmunds of Raceform reports:


Classy fillies face off in Derby dress rehearsal


Early NZ Derby favourite The Perfect Pink is part of a strong fillies' challenge ahead of Saturday's Avondale Guineas.

Fillies have endured a lean run in the Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby over the last decade, but Saturday's Gr. 2 AJC Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie could put The Perfect Pink and La Crique on course to change that.

No filly has won New Zealand's premier classic since the back-to-back victories by Silent Achiever and Habibi in 2012 and 2013. The eight runnings since then have produced just three placings by the subsequent Group One heroines Rising Romance (2014), Danzdanzdance (2018) and Two Illicit (2020).

The Perfect Pink heads into this weekend's key lead-up with a Group One triumph already under her belt, having stormed home to take out the New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton in November. A blue-blooded Savabeel filly from the Dennis brothers' star-studded family, The Perfect Pink has had two starts since the 1000 Guineas for second placings behind a pair of Avondale Guineas rivals.

She was edged out by La Crique in a head-bobbing duel at Ellerslie on January 9, then stepped up to 2000 metres for the first time in the Gr. 2 Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa on February 2. After dropping well back from the outside gate, she made an eye-catching late run to get within three-quarters of a length of all-the-way winner Field Of Gold.

“I think we're probably concentrating more on the Derby than the Oaks at this stage, although we'll get through this race before making any firm plans,” said Jamie Richards, who trains The Perfect Pink for owner-breeders Tony, Kevin, Martin and Ray Dennis and Tony Rider. The filly is currently the TAB's fixed-odds favourite for both races.

“With the Derby in mind, this is a good chance to give her another look around Ellerslie. She had her first start there when she was narrowly beaten by La Crique first-up, and that set her up for her placing in the Waikato Guineas behind another of the Derby favourites in Pikey's horse (the Tony Pike-trained Field Of Gold). Her form lines up well, and her preparation has gone according to plan so far.

“I thought she found the line beautifully in the Guineas, which was her first time up over ground. We were a bit cautious about riding her too close and ending up exposed without cover, so we were quite conservative from her wide gate. Once there was no pace on in front, it made it very hard for her to make up ground at the end, but she finished it off very well.

“She had a few quiet days away from the stable after that race, which is her usual routine, and I've been pleased with her since she's been back. She's never been the flashest worker on the track, but her work has been where it needs to be.”

La Crique, trained by Simon and Katrina Alexander for owner-breeders John and Jan Cassin, has made a big impression with four wins and two placings from six starts to date. She was a spectacular last-start winner of the Gr. 3 Desert Gold Stakes at Trentham on January 29, bounding away from previous start Group Two placegetter Sassy Merlot to score by four and a half lengths.

“She was very impressive that day, we were delighted,” Katrina Alexander said on Tuesday. “But the thing that probably pleased us even more was how well she came through the run and the big trip down to Wellington and back.

“How she handled that experience was always going to play a big part in determining what we did through the rest of her campaign. She's just done it so well that there's no reason not to push on.

“I don't think stepping up in distance will be any problem for her. Even though she likes to be handily positioned in her races, and has shown some real brilliance in her wins. Everyone who's ridden her has said that she settles very nicely with no issues at all.

“We're looking forward to getting this one out of the way, seeing how she handles everything, and then hopefully pushing on towards the ultimate goal of the Derby.”


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