Sakura Girl thriving in Queensland

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  • May 17, 2023
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Cambridge trainer Ben Foote is pleased with his Group Three winning three-year-old filly Sakura Girl, who will have her first start in Brisbane on Saturday when she contests the Gr.2 The Roses (2000m) at Doomben.

The daughter of Iffraaj finished runner-up in the Gr.2 Travis Stakes (2000m) last start when taking on older horses, beaten by late-season bloomer Aromatic.

Sakura Girl had been one of the favourites for the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) but set an over-zealous tempo and clung on bravely to finish sixth to subsequent Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m) winner Pennyweka before enjoying a brief freshen-up.

With the filly based at the Gold Coast, Foote is confident the New Zealand three-year-old form will again measure up.

“She has done really well. My son (Ryan) travelled over with her and she floated up from Sydney. She hasn’t missed a beat.

“She has eaten up the whole way and done really well.

“She had a good hit out this morning. Peter Robl rode her and he rung me and was very happy with her work.”

Hall of Fame jockey Opie Bosson has been booked to ride both on Saturday and in the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 3.

“It is great to have Opie booked for both races,” Foote said. “We had options of Aussie jockeys but I think Opie is one of the best we have ever had, so I am very confident. If I haven’t got him on, he usually beats me anyway, so I’d rather have him on our side.

“She has come on since her run in the Travis. She was always going to be a little bit vulnerable in that race fresh-up after six weeks over 2000m, any horse would be.

“Obviously, we are trying to peak for the Group One, so I think everything is going to plan.”

Sakura Girl is versatile and doesn’t have to lead, but her ability to press forward could be an advantage at the tighter Doomben circuit.

“She will be handy, but she is not a puller and she can be ridden from behind. We would prefer for her just to take a sit,” Foote said.

With Kiwi three-year-olds Sharp ‘N’ Smart, Legarto, Prowess and Pennyweka all boasting Group One wins across the Tasman this season, Foote is not daunted by the opposition in Australia.

“There are a couple of good ones there, but no real standouts. I think a few of them might struggle going 2000m and beyond,” he said.

Prior to Saturday, Foote is hoping to bank some travel money with a team of four entered for the Cambridge synthetic meeting on Wednesday, although he has been thwarted by wide draws.

Stablemates Gravity and The Odyssey are likely to clash in the Ellice Tanner Hart 1300m maiden.

“The Odyssey is a really nice horse and will get better with time. He has trialled well in every trial and he is a horse who will be running on strong. He has drawn out wide (9) like all of them but they have got to start somewhere.

“Gravity is probably going to start in the same race and has drawn out wide as well. He has trialled up well as well and will be hitting the line nicely too.

“We are just debating whether or not we start Ka Ying Lucky (race 9). He has drawn the outside (14) but he is a very fast horse with a lot of ability. If he starts, he will be very hard to beat.

“Tequila (race 1) has taken a long time to mature. She trialled up nice this time, got pocketed in behind them but got out and won comfortably. She will find the line well but will be even better over ground.”

Foote said he is keen to support the Cambridge polytrack through the winter.

“Probably just about everything I race will be on the synthetic,” he said. “I’m not a big fan of racing them on wet tracks, you get different types of wet tracks and I try to avoid them these days.”

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