Last season's Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) winner Lickety Split showed she will be a force to be reckoned with in the three-year-old feature events over the next few months with a determined effort to win the Group 3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders' Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka.
The Andrew Forsman-trained daughter of Turn Me Loose had won her first two races, including the Group One juvenile feature at Ellerslie, before enduring a torrid run when seventh in the Group 1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) to round out her two-year-old campaign.
Given a decent break Lickety Split put the writing on the wall with an eye-catching second placing over 900m at the Te Rapa trials earlier in the month before commencing her three-year-old season in a small but quality field on Saturday.
Given a perfect ride by Courtney Barnes, who recorded her sixth career stakes victory, the filly jumped away nicely from barrier six and settled one-out in midfield as the well fancied pair of Pacific Dragon and Deploy set up a solid pace in front.
Lickety Split moved into contention approaching the home turn and despite the wayward Pacific Dragon causing problems for both Deploy and the eventual winner as she moved out sharply in the final stages, Lickety Split refused to be beaten as she pinned her ears back to deny Pacific Dragon by a head on the line.
Forsman, who was in Melbourne at The Valley to saddle stablemate Mr Maestro, who finished a close-up fourth in a three-year-old 1500m contest, was delighted to see a tenacious Lickety Split make a winning return.
“It was a really good effort as they were a little wayward in front of her and she did cop a bit of a bump,” he said.
“I thought Courtney did a great job as she kept her balanced and held her up for the closing stages.
“She spelled very well and has furnished into a pretty powerful unit now and I think she will just keep getting better.
“You always have a few nerves first-up as to whether you have them fit enough, but she showed she wanted to be there. She knows where the winning post is and she will only get better from here.”
Forsman is reluctant to single out a particular race as the next step in the filly's campaign as he doesn't want to race her on heavy winter surfaces.
“We haven't looked too far ahead with her as I really just wanted to get her safely through today,” he said.
“She doesn't like the very wet tracks and that is what we're going to cop for the next six weeks at least so we will play it by ear and just keep her ticking over until we can find a suitable race and surface for her.”
Bred by Dean Hawkins and good mate Nick Hewson, who are involved in her ownership with a group of close friends and family, Lickety Split became the first Group One winner for exciting young stallion Turn Me Loose last season, who resides at Windsor Park Stud, where Hewson is the Nominations Manager.
The talented filly is out of the stakes-placed Handsome Ransom mare She's Slinky who is from a family that extends back to Group 3 Canterbury Gold Cup winner Classic Babe and her Group 2 Waikato Cup (2400m) winning daughter Passchendaele.
Triple Group One winner Turn Me Loose, who was trained by Forsman and former training partner Murray Baker, will stand for a fee of $20,000 + GST (LFG) for the 2022 breeding season.