Trainer Robert Dennis is hoping to get the green light for his future plans around promising three-year-old fillies The Gift and Ocean Point when the pair step out at Wingatui on Boxing Day. Dennis has the stablemates nominated for the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) in March and is keen to see them measure up on Saturday if they are to continue on an Oaks path.
Power filly The Gift goes in to her 1200m contest off the back of a 10 day freshen-up following her impressive victory on the middle day of New Zealand Cup Week at Riccarton, with Dennis confident she is ready to perform boldly.
“She had a two-week break after her last win and has grown a little and put on 10kgs,” he said. “She had been very impressive winning at Wingatui on Melbourne Cup Day and then again at Riccarton, so I do think she is very talented. “We’ve got her nominated for the Oaks at Trentham, so she would have to show me in her next couple of starts she can step up to that level, but she is from a good family and appeals as a stayer with the way she closes out her races.
“She is a funny thing and a little quirky, but she has really started to settle down at home of late. “Funnily enough she is a very good traveler and I think that has helped her as she has had four trips away from home already. “Our priority is to get black type with her, so her next assignment will be the Gore Guineas (Listed, 1355m) in January and then we can reassess where we are at.”
Ocean Park filly Ocean Point will tackle the older horses over 1200m later on the card after not having a lot of luck when running fourth to her stablemate at Riccarton last time. “Ocean Point is a talented filly as well,” Dennis said.
“She had a bad draw last time at Riccarton, so we rode her cold and she didn’t get the gaps when she needed them in the run home. “I think with a clear run she would have tested The Gift but I’m not sure if she would have gone past her. “I did want to keep them apart on Saturday but after that they will most likely clash in the Gore Guineas and maybe the other Guineas races that follow.”
Rounding out the Dennis team for Saturday is four-year-old Heidi Hi who went an eye-catching race at Riccarton last start off the back of a lengthy break away from the track. The Roc De Cambes mare does require two scratchings to make the field for the last race on the programme with Dennis also looking at lining her up at Riverton on New Year’s Day if she doesn’t make the field on Saturday.