Freebie set to add to stakes record at Riccarton

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The Gift

Adhering to the maxim of never looking a gift horse in the mouth is serving Robert Dennis and partners well.

The Southland trainer gladly took up the generous offer of a filly for no charge and the aptly-named The Gift now looms as a leading chance to land top honours in the Group 3 Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton on Wednesday.

The four-year-old daughter of Power has won five of her 16 starts, including a course and distance victory in last season’s Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m), and is ideally suited to the conditions of her upcoming test.

“When Brendan and Jo Lindsay took over Cambridge Stud they had 10 or 15 yearling fillies that weren’t quite up to taking to the sales,” Dennis said.

“They decided not to race them themselves and rolled them out for nothing to a few trainers around the country.

“The Gift was one of them and she ended up here. I syndicated her and the rest is history and that’s how she got her name, it was very generous of the Lindsays.”

The Gift will be third-up into the Breeders’ Stakes following an unplaced run when resuming, an open handicap win at Wingatui and returned there at her most recent appearance to finish third.
Dennis said he resisted the temptation to have a crack at the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) in favour of a softer option with the 83-rated mare.

“I nominated her for the Coupland’s Mile but like I said to the owners, running in the Coupland’s will be like playing the Highlanders whereas running is this race is like playing the Stags.

“Put your horse in the worst company and yourself in the best. She is well in at set weights and penalties and drops half a-kilo on her last start. It’s a weaker field as well so she looks thrown in really.”

The Gift will again be ridden by Krishna Mudhoo and Dennis is bullish about their chances, despite a wide barrier.

“Krishna has had a few rides on her now and he gets on really well with her. I have every confidence in him doing another good job, so I’m not too concerned about the draw,” he said.

“She’s got a stakes win and a couple of placings on the board and she’s in fine form this season and I don’t see why it won’t continue tomorrow.”

During a consistent three-year-old campaign, The Gift finished runner-up at Listed level in the Gore Guineas (1335m) and Dunedin Guineas (1500m) before breaking through in the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m).

The mare is a +800 fourth favourite for Wednesday’s assignment in a market headed by Monza Circuito (+400), Beneficial (+450) and Providenceprovides (+450).

The Gift is out of the Dehere mare Trust and is the younger half-sister to four-race winner Super Hoof.

She comes from an extended family that includes dual Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Fairy King Prawn and Group One winning sprinter, Easy Rocking.

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