The field for the $100,000 Karaka Mile has been confirmed with a strong line-up of leading three-year-olds set to do battle at Ellerslie on Sunday evening.
Last year's Karaka 3YO Mile winner Choice Bro with connections after his win.
The $100,000 NZB Insurance Karaka 3YO Mile one of three feature races at Ellerslie on Sunday evening for horses nominated in the Karaka Million Race Series as yearlings.
At the top of the book is Gobi Ranger (Tale of the Cat), trained by Danica Guy. Last season’s Group 3 Eclipse Stakes winner as a two-year-old has been in sound form this season, finishing second two starts ago in the Group 2 Great Northern Guineas at Ellerslie before being unsuited by a very slow pace in the Group 1 Levin Classic last weekend. International rider Noel Callow has been engaged to ride from barrier 8.
The Bruce Wallace trained Fast Dragon (Fastnet Rock) has been in solid form since returning from Australia. The son of Fastnet Rock has been close-up in his three starts since his Sydney campaign including a close fourth last start in the Group 2 Championship Stakes at Ellerslie and will have the services of leading rider Michael Walker.
Central Districts raider Touche (NZ) (Thorn Park) was third in last year’s Karaka Million and returns a year later looking to claim the big prize in the Karaka 3YO Mile. The Johno Benner trained runner enters the race this year with a last start third at Trentham and will jump from barrier 6.
The lightly tried I’mdaone (NZ) (Fully Fledged) has one win and two runner-up placings from only four starts. Trained by father and son duo of Keith & Brendon Hawtin, the son of Fully Fledged was a winner at his second start and was a close second last start at Ellerslie.
Last year’s Karaka Million winning trainer Stephen Marsh has Enlightened Knight (NZ) (Iffraaj) entered in the race. The son of Iffraaj was a last start third behind the talented Glorious Lad and has drawn barrier 4.
Stephen Marsh is represented with a second runner in the race with backmarker Chipandchase (NZ) (Pentire) engaged in the $100,000 event. The son of Pentire was a winner three starts ago and was seen running on fairly in the Group 2 Championship Stakes at his last start.
Te Akau Racing has a strong hand in the Karaka 3YO Mile with three runners Sir Darci (NZ) (Darci Brahma), Spellbinder & Flirty Gerty. The lightly raced Sir Darci was a winner from only four raceday appearances and was swamped late at his last start at Ellerslie to run third. Kelly Myers will ride the gelding from barrier 9.
One of two leading chances in the race by O’Reilly, Spellbinder (NZ) (O’Reilly) a resounding winner at Ellerslie last start. The Jason Bridgman trained filly was a magical six-length winner of the Listed Soliloquy Stakes earlier in the season, showing an affinity with the Ellerslie. Stable rider Matthew Cameron will be aboard the filly from barrier 1.
The third of Te Akau Racing’s runners is Flirty Gertey (NZ) (Thorn Park), a winner of half of her four starts including a win at Ellerslie two starts ago. The filly by Thorn Park was unlucky last start in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic when nearly dislodging the rider. Leith Innes will ride the filly on Sunday from barrier 12.
Last start winner Stowaway (NZ) (Castledale) travels up from his Palmerston North base for trainer Garry Vile. The gelding’s win came at only his second start from barrier an outside barrier of 15.
Maiden galloper Lamborghini (NZ) (Shinko King) will be out to cause an upset with a win in the Karaka 3YO Mile. Trained by last weekend’s Group 1 winner trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen, the son of Shinko King was a last start second behind Stowaway.
Another maiden runner Bergerac (NZ) (Mettre en Jeu) will be looking to break through for a maiden victory in the Karaka 3YO Mile from barrier 14.
Last year’s winning trainers of the race John Sargent and Hayden Allen will be looking to repeat the dose with maiden runner Deschabeel (NZ) (Savabeel). The son of Savabeel is held in high regard having run in the Group 1 2000 Guineas earlier in the season.
The fillies have a strong hand in the Karaka 3YO Mile this year headed by last start Group 2 Eight Carat Classic winner Hera (NZ) (O’Reilly). Trained by Roger James, the daughter of O’Reilly is a dual stakes winner and beat Group 1 winner Costa Viva at her last start. She will be ridden by James McDonald from barrier 11.
Dual winner Total Response (Kheleyf) has been racing against the best three-year-olds recent times and was a winner at Ellerslie three starts ago and will jump from barrier 7.
The race has been scheduled to run at 6.13pm as Race 3 on the six-race programme. A final field of 15 horses has been gathered for the 1600m event.
The $1 million Karaka Million will be held at the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting at Ellerslie on the eve of the Karaka Premier Sale, this Sunday 26 January. Tickets are now on sale from www.ellerslie.co.nz.