Yesterday evening’s Hedge Hunters’ Hurdles Challenge Classic Qualifiers at Newturf virtual horse racing track produced the strongest fields to date, both in terms of numbers and also in quality. The one year old division featured Breeders’ Cup winner, Kotkita jet as well as several other likely types, from a broad range of owners in a race strong enough to rival a Golden Race, including in terms of the prize money on offer.
Kotkita jet failed to complete here but fellow BC finalist, Mam’zel Mz, proved her poor BC showing to be all wrong by putting in a strong performance to take second place, despite the going being much firmer than this mudlark would have cared for. The Thompson Stud duo of Dakota and Devious both performed with credit and picked up valuable qualifying points with their respective third and fifth place finishes. Cartaya de Kerser, owned by Nado, didn’t get the opportunity to show her ability in the Breeders’ Cup having fallen in the preliminary round but she has been demonstrating steady improvement in minor races. She stayed on resolutely to win this highly competitive affair and on this evidence is bound to figure in forthcoming valuable events, including in the final of this competition at the end of the month.
The two year old division also featured a former Breeders’ Cup winner in the shape of Westfield Gardens’ Ubi de Ceheme but he was to make little impact. The first round event was won by the Barnes Stable owned Empress Wei and it would be the same owner who would scoop the spoils this time too. The Zalazl filly, Nanaaz may not possess as much natural speed as some of the other runners in the field but she demonstrated bags of stamina and guts to out-battle another Barnes Stable owned runner , Hattori Hanzo all the way to the line for the win. The Fevam3 colt, El Campéon, did best of the rest to take third spot.
We are now half way through the qualifying rounds for these events with the third round taking place next week. Competition for the Finals berths is hotting up and is bound to get tougher still over the coming weeks. Likely candidates are starting to emerge in each of the divisions but it is possible that the eventual winner is yet to take to the field. All to play for.