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NZB Caulfield Spring WFA Championship Set to Kick Off

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NZB Caulfield Spring WFA Championship Set to Kick Off

The first leg of the New Zealand Bloodstock Spring Weight-For-Age Championship is to be contested this weekend at Caulfield with the running of the A$220,000 Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes, which has attracted a strong field of nine runners.

The NZB Spring WFA Championship is a series of four races run at Caulfield that includes the Group 2 P.B Lawrence Stakes, Group 1 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes, Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes and the Group 1 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes.

This is the third year that NZB has sponsored the Spring WFA Championship across the Tasman with Kiwi Ocean Park (NZ) taking out last year’s Series with 20 points after winning the Underwood and Caulfield Stakes with the inaugural running won by another Kiwi the Peter Moody trained Lights of Heaven (NZ).

Horses are awarded points for finishing first through to eighth. The winner of the Series is the horse that accumulates the highest tally of points over the four races.

Last year’s edition of the P.B. Lawrence Stakes saw Second Effort (Mossman) claim a resounding length-and-a-quarter victory and he is back this year to defend his crown. He comes into this year’s race in good form coming off a last win in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) also run at Caulfield three weeks ago.

Second Effort will face a true heavyweight test as he tries to retain his title this year. He will face one of the rising stars of the Australian galloping ranks in Puissance de Lune (Shamardal), the early favourite for the ultimate heavyweight belt the Melbourne Cup.

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Puissance de Lune burst onto the radar in last year’s Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) during the Flemington Cup week carnival with a devastating eight length knockout victory over a quality field. He returned in the autumn for a solitary run in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes over 1600m that saw him dead-heat for first and gain even more admirers.

Whilst the 1400m looks to be short of Puissance de Lune’s best he has undoubted class, so much so that his jockey Glen Boss, one of Australia’s leading hoops, declared that ‘he has not ridden a horse that good in a long time’.

Kiwi-bred Under the Sun (No Excuse Needed) will fly the flag for Series sponsor New Zealand Bloodstock with the Karaka graduate travelling down from Gai Waterhouse’s Sydney stables to contest the Group 2 feature. The winner of the Listed Winter Stakes two starts ago will be ridden by globetrotting jockey Craig Williams.

Karaka Ready to Run graduate Pago Rock (Rock of Gibraltar) was also a Listed winner two starts back when he claimed an impressive victory in the Sir John Monash Stakes at Caulfield. The Esker Lodge graduate has a good record at Caulfield, winning three of his six starts on the course.

The consistent Darley trained galloper Launay (Lonhro) never seems to be far away from the thick end of the prizemoney and is a 1400m specialist winning five races over the distance including twice at Listed level.

Tony Vasil will saddle up durable campaigner Under the Eiffel (Mossman) in the weekend’s feature race. A winner of nine races including two at black-type level, he has a fitness edge on some of his more fancied rivals and is renowned for his fighting spirit.

Last year’s Group 3 JRA Cup (2040m) winner Bianmick (Bianconi) is returning from a spell to contest the 1400m feature, a distance he has won over twice and is a previous winner around Caulfield. The Michael Brady trained gelding holds a nomination for the Group 1 Cox Plate this spring.

There are two highly regarded four-year-olds that come into the race with half a kilo weight advantage over their older rivals.

The Peter Moody trained High Esteem (Redoute’s Choice) is coming off a hat-trick of wins in his previous campaign that culminated with victory in the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m). The well-bred entire has only had nine starts in his career, winning four of them, and will be aimed at some of Melbourne’s feature Group 1 races this spring.

The other four-year-old is the speedy Ajeeb (Al Maher) trained by Mick Price, coming off a scintillating last start victory at the same course and distance as the P.B. Lawrence Stakes. The entire put in a huge performance last start after missing the kick and circling the field to lead, holding on to victory after setting a fast pace. He is the most inexperienced horse in the field having only had six starts, notching up four wins.

The 2013 New Zealand Bloodstock Spring WFA Championship will see the best horses in Australasia compete for A$1.37 million in prizemoney plus trophies to the value of $25,000.

The second leg of the Series is the New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes which will be run at Group 1 level for the first time this year on 31 August, adding further enticement for owners and trainers to be a part of the Championship.

To view the field for the P.B. Lawrence Stakes, click here.

To view the race schedule for the New Zealand Bloodstock Spring WFA Championship, click here.


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