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8 August 2018, 5:40 p.m.

Building up toward further Group One

Avantage, the leading light for New Zealand Champion Two-Year-Old honours at the upcoming New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, is on target to trial later this month.

“She’ll either trial at Te Rapa on the 21st (August) or a day later in one of the open heats at the Taupo race meeting,” trainer Jamie Richards said.

“She hasn’t grown a lot, but she’s strengthened up a bit and is coming to hand.

“The trial will tell us where to run her first-up, either the Gold Trail Stakes or the Canterbury Belle Stakes, both are over 1200m on the same day (September 22).

“The main aim is the One Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November.”

A daughter of Fastnet Rock, Avantage was beaten just once in six starts last season, that defeat coming when chasing home stablemate Sword Of Osman in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m).

Either side of that placing she won major events. She won the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie last January and the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni in her final juvenile appearance.


Newcomer to Team Rogerson

Donavan Mansour is an unfamiliar name set to appear in the riding ranks, but he is no stranger to New Zealand racing.

The 33-year-old launched his riding career when spending one year with Lance Noble, who was then training in Matamata. He had one ride during that 2007-08 season before returning to South Africa and has now ridden almost 400 winners.

“I spent three years in Mauritius and was champion jockey there in 2016 and rode 20 winners in Zimbabwe and the rest in South Africa,” Mansour said.

Those wins include a couple of Group Two’s and three Group Three victories in South Africa. He left South Africa in good form with five wins within the last month after spending several months on the sideline following an operation.

“I got back riding in time to get fit to come here and I had a good run,” he said. “I had 20 rides and won five of them.”

Mansour, who can ride as low as 50kgs, arrived in New Zealand last Thursday and has joined Team Rogerson, for whom he will be riding this weekend at Pukekohe and Ruakaka.

“I got homesick when I was here last time, but now I’ve got a wife and two boys and it’s a great place to bring up a family,” he said. “I’m happy to be back.”

 

Open trials for Taupo meeting

The early season Taupo race meeting will once again give Group performers a chance to have a hit-out in a trial before racing begins.

Up to two trials over 1100m will be held at Taupo on August 22 prior to the first race and will be for horses that have placed in the first four in a Group race.

Priority will be given to those horses that have run in the first three placings and the trials will be restricted to eight runners.