Charlotte Lu headlines New Zealand Oaks

Charlotte Lu is the favourite for the $50,000 Selwyn-Rakaia Vet Services New Zealand Oaks at Addington on Friday night. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.

Addington is set to stage one of New Zealand’s premier nights of greyhound racing on Friday, with two Group Ones and a Group Two on the programme.

Charlotte Lu headlines the $50,000 Selwyn-Rakaia Vet Services New Zealand Oaks, off the back of her impressive eight-length heat win last Thursday. The daughter of Fabregas and Tee Time won the Group 2 Lois Henley Memorial at her previous start and looks ideally drawn in Box 1 for the final.

“Put it this way: I’m really happy with the draw!” laughed trainer Tony Hart. “She’s been working really well and she should be hard to beat on Friday.

“If she leads, it will take a really good dog to run her down. I do think she has to lead though – I don’t believe she could come from behind.”

Since last week, Hart has kept Charlotte Lu’s routine the same.

“She had a workout on Monday with Diego Jem, and she’s also been out in the yards enjoying herself.”

Charlotte Lu will start a warm favourite on Friday, and is currently priced up at $1.55 with TAB NZ.

As usual, Jean and Dave Fahey are strongly represented in the Group race features on Friday night, with three runners in the New Zealand Oaks, two in the Active Electrical Christchurch New Zealand St Leger and two in the Group 2 Kingston Cup.

Milky Tea finished third in her New Zealand Oaks heat last week behind kennelmate Opawa Pick, in what was her first race in three months. She made a clean beginning but was shunted wide going into the first bend, and was strong to the line. She has come up with Box 3 on Friday.

“She should improve a bit,” advised co-trainer Dave Fahey. “Actually, they should all improve a bit for the final, as they were all freshened up a bit for the race.

“She needs to jump – I would have preferred her and Gina’s draws to be the other way around. You never know – she did run a good third in the Group 1 New Zealand Breeders Stakes behind Opawa Superstar.”

Chatty Mavis will have to contend with Box 5 on Friday, following her unlucky run for third behind Mandy Jewel in last week’s heat.

“She just needs to jump like she can, and she can be right in it with a good lead,” said Fahey.

Opawa Gina, in Box 6, will complete the Fahey triumvirate in the New Zealand Oaks. The daughter of Fernando Bale and Opawa Racer led the chase behind Charlotte Lu in her heat.

“She’s my best chance but she just needs a little bit of luck from the day,” said Fahey. “She has actually run 29.76 there one day, but it’s going to be hard for her trying to get across.”

The market for the Group 1 New Zealand St Leger is more evenly spread, with Naya Bale, Opawa Superstar and Opawa Wayne all vying for favouritism.

Opawa Wayne took time honours in last week’s heats, scoring impressively by four lengths in 29.93. The Auckland Cup runner-up will jump from Box 4 on Friday and drawn alongside him is kennelmate Opawa Superstar in Box 3. Opawa Superstar took out his heat in 30.08, and he is already a multiple Group race winner.

“Opawa Superstar hasn’t been 100 per cent lately, so he and Wayne are pretty even at the moment. Normally, Opawa Superstar is about four lengths quicker than him, but hopefully we’ll see some more improvement from him this week.

“Hopefully one of them jumps and they don’t get in each other’s ways!”

Know Keeper will start the shortest priced favourite of the night, and deservedly so. The talented Garry Cleeve-trained staying sensation is unbeaten in his 13 attempts over staying trips, and he looks poised to add another Group race victory to his tally on Friday night when he lines up in the Kingston Cup.

Fahey has Humbling and Hairpin Trigger also contesting the Kingston Cup.

“Humbling could be near the front for a wee while, but she’s never had a 700m race, so I’m not sure if she’ll be able to hold on,” says Fahey.

“Hairpin Trigger is a bit of a pussycat. She has definitely run out a strong 700m in the past though, so if she can get a bit of space early, she can run home all right.”


By Liz Whelan

Posted on 11 May 2022

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