Group-winning mare heading north for spring return

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  • August 30, 2023
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By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Pearl Of Alsace stamped herself as one of the country’s most progressive mares last season and she is thriving ahead of her reappearance.

The Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray-trained daughter of Tavistock will open her five-year-old campaign in the open sprint at the Whangarei meeting on Saturday week.

“She had a quiet trial at Avondale, we were quite keen to give her one right-handed,” Ritchie said.

“She was well held and balanced up around the corner and we’re pretty happy with her, she’s come on quite a bit since.”

As has been the stable’s custom in recent years, the Sir Peter Vela-bred and raced Pearl Of Alsace will head north later this week to take advantage of the surf and turf environment before resuming over 1400m on September 9.

“We’re doing our usual thing and taking her up there on Friday with seven others of the team,” Ritchie said.

“She’ll gallop at Ruakaka on Saturday morning and enjoy the beach through the week and have another gallop on the track at some point prior to her first-up run.”

Pearl Of Alsace has been entered in the Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) and the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m).

“We were quite keen to avoid going to a Group One weight-for-age race first-up so we’ll let the Tarzino Trophy (Gr.1, 1400m) go,” Ritchie said.

“She holds nominations for the other two legs of the Triple Crown at Hastings and we’ll make some decisions after Whangarei.”

Pearl Of Alsace claimed the Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham last preparation before suffering her sole defeat in six appearances when fourth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Pukekohe.

“She has certainly come back a lot stronger, as you would expect as she went a long way from winning a maiden to the Cuddle and was then a little unlucky not to be placed in a Group One at her last start,” Ritchie said.

“You would have to think that just with the experience of that she will be a lot better for it this time around. She knows where the winning post is and she’s greatly improved maturity-wise.”

The stable’s more immediate focus will be on Wednesday’s Cambridge meeting with two runners on the all-weather track.

Rocket Lad will resume in the Cambridge Equine Hospital Handicap (1550m) and El Concho will debut in the Waipa Earthworks Maiden (1500m) with Opie Bosson to ride the pair.

“Rocket Lad has had one trial and it’s hard to assess, it’s not an overly strong race and he will improve with the run,” Ritchie said.

“I still think he can go a cheeky race, although he might be a little vulnerable first-up.

“El Concho has taken a bit of time to work it all out and he is getting better and likely to need a run.

“He’ll win races for sure, he obviously lacks a bit of experience, but I think both of them will run well all the same.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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