Group One plans weren’t originally on the cards for Fonsalette this weekend, but that all changed earlier this week when the nominations came out for the Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m).
The juvenile feature had attracted just four nominations, and with Group One honours on the line trainer Stephen Marsh elected to enter his promising filly.
“It wasn’t a race that was on our radar,” Marsh said. “We were going to run on Wednesday at Matamata and then go to the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Group 1, 1400m), but when it came up four nominations for the Group One we decided to change tack.
“It hasn’t affected our plans too much. It is a pretty open field outside the top two.”
Fonsalette has finished runner-up in two of her three starts, including the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) last start and Marsh has been pleased with the way she has come through that run.
“She has come through it really well, I couldn’t fault her,” he said. “She will run a good race.”
It will be Fonsalette’s first test going right-handed on Saturday, but Marsh said she has had plenty of practice in track work, which hasn’t fazed her.
“She hasn’t trialled or raced right-handed, but we have done a lot of work right-handed and she seems to have taken to it really well. I am not worried about that,” he said.
TAB bookmakers have installed Fonsalette a +1100 fourth favourite behind Te Akau duo Sword Of State (-133.33) and On The Bubbles (+220), with undefeated filly Bonny Lass on the third line of betting at +850.
Marsh will be contesting more elite-level targets on Saturday when stablemate Lincoln King lines-up in the Group 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m).
The six-year-old gelding finished runner-up to Royal Performer two starts back, who subsequently went on to win the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa last month.
Lincoln King has just had one test over two miles, finishing second to Dragon Storm in last year’s Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m), and Marsh believes he is a strong chance from barrier three on Saturday.
“I am really happy with him, he has finally drawn a good barrier,” Marsh said.
“He has been drawing out wide and getting out of his ground and getting back a fair bit.
“We want to try and use the draw. He is not going to be handy, but we want to put him a bit closer than midfield and put him to sleep on the fence.
“We know he gets 3200m and he should be the real improver.”
Marsh is also looking forward to the resumption of Pierina in the Laser Plumbing Te Puke 1400.
The daughter of Savabeel hasn’t raced since her unplaced run in the Group 2 Westbury Classic (1400m) on Karaka Million night, but she pleased Marsh with her 1000m trial win at Rotorua last week.
“It was a nice trial win,” he said. “She has come up really well and the track (rated Dead6 on Friday morning) should suit her.”
Meanwhile, Marsh reported Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) runner-up Milford has come through the $1 million Classic in good order and will fly to Sydney next week in search of more riches.
“He hasn’t missed a beat since the Derby,” Marsh said. “He flies to Aussie next Tuesday and he will run in the Tulloch Stakes (Group 2, 2000m) with (jockey) James McDonald on, and then into the Derby (Group 1, 2400m).”