By Duane Ranger
Gold Orchid has trained on well since her gutsy third behind South Islanders Elle Mac and Delight in the $120,000 Gr.1 Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park on March 2.
And for that reason her trainer/driver Tony Herlihy (MNZM) believes the three-year-old daughter of Bettor’s delight and Honey Rose Falcon, can go close in Sunday’s fifth heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series for three-year-old pacers at the Cambridge Raceway.
“She shouldn’t be too far away,” Herlihy said.
The $20,000 heat will be contested over the 1700m mobile.
“I was delighted with her placing behind Mark and Natalie’s two runners in the Northern Oaks. She’s the sort of horse who will get better with time and she has trained on good since that run. She’s got a nice draw (2) on Sunday and should use it to her advantage, and even though it’s a drop in class for her you can never label a horse, because that’s racing.
“I’ve also got her stablemate – Bettor Babe (5) in Sunday’s heat as well. She goes all right, and I’d be very happy if she could run in the first four,” Ardmore-based Herlihy said.
Both of Herlihy’s ‘Strike Won’ stablemates are by Bettor’s Delight. Bettor Babe, who has won two of her six starts and placed in one other, is out of the un-raced Christian Cullen mare, Galleons Supreme.
She is owned by All Black captain Kieran Read, the Woodlands Partnership Number two Syndicate, and former All Black half-back Andy Ellis.
Gold Orchid will be looking to win her second race in 12 starts after placing in her last six appearances.
Herlihy’s wife Suzanne and Ian Hope-Johnstone (Takapuna) share in the ownership of Gold Orchid who is out of the eight-win ($90,566) Christian Cullen mare, Honey Rose Falcon - who was also trained by Herlihy and co-owned by the his wife and Hope-Johnstone. The latter bred both pacers.
“I’ve been working horses for Ian for a while now. His progeny were here when Mark and I worked out of this base. If she does win on Sunday, then we will sit down with Ian and decide whether or not to head to Christchurch for the Final.
“Like I said earlier she just needs a bit more time. I think she will make a nice 4-year-old,” Herlihy said.
Both the ‘Strike Won’ runners have tasted success at Cambridge Raceway. In fact Bettor Babe was a nice last start winner on the track on March 7 when she was a $2.80 favourite in that R43 to R53 pace.
This season’s first Nevele R heat winner was raced Alexandra Park on February 9, and was won by the Robert Dunn trained Kotare Cullen (John Dunn).
The Dunn duo also nailed the second heat when Anytime triumphed at at Methven on February 11.
The third heat at Ashburton on February 25 was won by winner the Clark Barron trained Raksbet (Jim Curtin), and the fourth heat will be staged at Addington Raceway this Friday (March 16):
Then the sixth and seventh heats will be run at Forbury Park and Addington Raceway on March 19, and April 20 respectively. The Group One $140,000 Final and Consolation will also be at Addington Raceway on Friday May 11.
The past 10 winners and drivers of the Group One Nevele R Fillies Final (1950m mobile) have been:
2017: Spanish Armada (Natalie Rasmussen) 2:18.5.
2016: Dream About Me (Mark Purdon) 2:18.1.
2015: The Orange Agent (Maurice McKendry) 2:18.2.
2014: Venus Serena (John Dunn) 2:19.1.
2013: Adore Me (Mark Purdon) 2:20.6.
2012: O'Baby (Natalie Rasmussen) 2:21.0.
2011: Carabella (Ricky May) 2:19.7.
2010: Secret Potion (Nicole Molander) 2:22.5.
2009: Lauraella (David Butcher) 2:22.4.
2008: Badlands Jewel (Mark Jones) 2:21.5.
The New Zealand three-year-old fillies 1950m mobile and race record is held by the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Dream About Me (Purdon) of 2:18.1, which was set in 2016.