In-form team tackles Taranaki features

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  • February 05, 2024
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By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

A week after teaming up for a million-dollar triumph at Ellerslie, trainers Peter and Dawn Williams and owners Barneswood Farm are searching for more feature spoils this weekend.

The Williams stable celebrated one of their career highlights when Desert Lightning carried the familiar tangerine and white colours of Barneswood Farm’s Sarah Green and Ger Beemsterboer to a scintillating victory in the inaugural Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic (1600m).

Seven days on, the same owner-trainer combination will contest two black-type races at New Plymouth on Saturday with a pair of half-siblings – Saint Alice in the Gr.3 Denis Wheeler Earthmoving Taranaki Cup (1800m) and Arabian Songbird in the Listed Grangewilliam Stud Oaks Prelude (1800m). Both will be ridden by Warren Kennedy.

“I think we’re heading into that meeting with a couple of very nice chances,” Peter Williams said. “I just don’t really want too much rain. It’s pretty warm today (Friday), but it looks a little bit overcast and threatening. A bit of rain won’t be a problem, but hopefully it won’t end up being too much.”

Six-year-old So You Think mare Saint Alice has won six of her 23 starts. She made her presence felt at Group level last season with a third placing behind Aromatic and Sakura Girl in the Gr.2 Travis Stakes (2000m).

Saint Alice resumed with an eye-catching late run into fifth over 1400m on Boxing Day, then stepped up to 1600m at Tauranga on January 12 and launched a powerful finish to win impressively.

“She got home really nicely to win at Tauranga and seems to have gone the right way since then,” Williams said. “We’ve been very happy with her and this is a suitable race to have a go at.”

Saint Alice’s half-sister Arabian Songbird is a three-year-old filly by Pierro. Barneswood Farm paid $260,000 to buy her from Karaka 2022, and she finished third in both of her first two starts before stepping up to 1600m and clearing maiden ranks strongly at Ruakaka on January 5.

“She’s done nothing wrong in her career so far and we’re looking forward to seeing her stretch out over a bit further,” Williams said. “She’s building towards the Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m). We think she’s a very nice filly and she’s had a good build-up to this race.”

The TAB rates Arabian Songbird a $31 chance for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks, which will be run at Trentham on March 16.

Meanwhile, Williams has been pleased with Desert Lightning since last weekend’s Ellerslie heroics, and the next assignment for the Pride Of Dubai gelding will be on February 24.

“It was a terrific win on Saturday and a special day for us,” Williams said. “He’s bright and well and he’ll go to Otaki next for the Group One weight-for-age race over 1600m. We’re looking forward to seeing what he does down there.”

Desert Lightning’s Aotearoa Classic victory earned him a ballot-free spot in the field for the A$4 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield on March 16, for which the TAB currently rates him a $15 chance. –LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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