Friday Flash – 17th November 2023

Headline News

Entain/TAB announces a new Bonus Series of $650,000
Hunter Durrant is back at Te Akau Racing
Fortuna Owners Day 2023 is scheduled for Sunday 10th December


Fortuna has 4 runners next few days, Two in NZ and Two in Victoria

NZ- Trentham – Friday 17th

KHAFEEF runs in the R65 2400m event – Race 5 @ 3.32 and will be ridden by Mereana Hudson from a mid field barrier. Has been mixing flat and jumping races over the winter and gets out to a suitable trip in this event. Can be a hard pulling horse, but Mereana is a strong rider who has ridden him before. At very good odds here @ @$21/5.50 but will love the trip and gets track conditions to suit. If he settles well in the run, he will be storming home at the finish

NZ- Riccarton – Saturday 18th

DANCARINA  contests the R75 over 1200m – Race 5 @ 2.15pm with the in form Warren Kennedy to ride from Barrier 3 down the Riccarton chute. Failed to feature in the Pegasus last week from her outside draw, but has a lovely draw this time, track conditions will be in her favour and she has “that man” in the saddle. Represents a top 3 chance here at the nice each way odds of $11/$3.50

Victoria – The Valley – Friday 17th

RUBICON CROSSING heads back to The Valley, where she contests the BM 70 event over 955 metres, with Harry Coffey to ride from Barrier 3 – Beaten just a bit over 1000m this venue when jumping from the outside barrier, she draws much better here. An impressive winner at Mornington on her Aus debut she is well in the market here @ $4.80/$2 and is a good each way chance in this

Victoria – Kyneton – Monday 20th

FLEET FOOTED contests the 3yo Maiden 1100 at Knyeton Monday 20th – Race 3 at 2.30pm and will be ridden by Matt Cartwright from Barrier 6. Went out as favourite on his raceday debut Yarra Valley 28th Oct, but struck a soft track which was not to his liking. Has trained on nicely since his debut run. Watch the market but is an each way chance in this on a Good track


Matamata Trackwork

No Fortuna timed trackwork this week

Singapore Trackwork 

Saturday 11th November

TRIDENT (IBRAHIM) 600- 41; GUN (ASLAM)1000/600-39; RHETT BUTLER (JAMIL)600-41

Tuesday 14th November

RHETT BUTLER (JAMIL)800/600-41; TRIDENT (AWAH)800/600-41



Entain/TAB announces a new Summer Bonus Series of $650,000

Gee, it almost seems that every other week there’s a new announcement from Entain/TAB – its certainly an exciting time to be involved in New Zealand racing. See the latest below.

Entain Australia and TAB NZ has joined forces with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) to introduce the New Zealand Summer Series Bonus – a move to further elevate New Zealand’s pinnacle race days over the summer racing season.The inaugural Series provides an incentive for New Zealand and Australia’s leading middle-distance horses to be at the top of their game, competing for a lucrative purse of $650,000 in bonuses.

The New Zealand Summer Series Bonus will be held across four races between January and March next year, rewarding $500,000 to the Series winner, $100,000 to the runner up and $50,000 for the third place getter in the Series (with the associated Trainers taking home 10% of the bonus payments).To be eligible for the winning bonus, a horse will need to run in one of the two 1600-metre entry races – the $400,000 Harcourts Thorndon Mile at Trentham on 20 January or the new $1m Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic at Ellerslie on 27 January, held on TAB Karaka Millions night.
The Series will then progress towards two of New Zealand’s most iconic 2000-metre races – the $600,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa on 10 February and the $450,000 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie on 9 March.The winner will be decided by a points system, with the points weighted towards the two Series races.

“The summer period represents the single most important strategic window for thoroughbred racing’s growth both domestically and internationally,” Entain Managing Director – New Zealand, Cameron Rodger, said. “Our vision for this period is simple: ‘best horses, best tracks, best Jockeys, consistently’. This bonus Series will help to drive this vision, in combination with ongoing innovation around the racing calendar during this time,”

NZTR CEO Bruce Sharrock is thrilled about the new Series and the opportunities it affords racing participants. “This initiative is a testament to the ongoing collaboration between NZTR and Entain, highlighting our shared commitment to continually elevate our sport. The New Zealand Summer Series Bonus is being funded this season by Entain and via the TAB NZ Rejuvenation Fund, and we’re grateful to both parties for supporting this worthy concept. The Series involves four middle-distance races across three of our premier racing venues, with a combined stake of $3.1m (including the bonus) up for grabs. The dates also coincide with four of our The Grand Tour Racing Festival meets, supercharging The Grand Tour activity and further promoting our top 20 race days across the country. With that level of prizemoney available, we’re expecting the crème of our industry to compete throughout these races. The points system, which will be announced next month, has been structured so as to create plenty of intrigue during the summer as to who will ultimately reign supreme. We’re looking forward to kicking off the Series on NZCIS Wellington Cup Day in January, with the Harcourts Thorndon Mile at Trentham being the first entry race, followed up by the newly established Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic the following weekend at TAB Karaka Millions night,” Sharrock said.


Hunter Durrant is back at Te Akau Racing

Durrant leading tangerine charge at Riccarton

Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Hunter Durrant is enjoying being back at the helm of Te Akau Racing’s Riccarton barn as the tangerine and blue army descend on New Zealand Cup Week. Durrant led Te Akau’s South Island operation last spring and has rejoined their Riccarton arm on a permanent basis following a brief stint in Sydney earlier this year.

“I moved to Sydney where I was Annabel Neasham’s assistant trainer for six months,” Durrant said. It was a good experience, I enjoyed it and learnt a lot, but I felt like the right thing was to come home. Te Akau had always wanted me to come back and they gave me a few options with what I could do and where I could go and I decided to come down here (Riccarton). I ran the Christchurch stable last spring and I really enjoyed it. I have come back to Te Akau in the last month or so. I will be sticking on here (Riccarton) after Cup Week, it is good to have horses down here year-round, especially with the polytrack down here as well.”

Prior to his Sydney stint, Durrant had been a key figure in Te Akau’s operation, which he joined after it soon became apparent his aspirations of becoming a jockey would be hindered by weight.

“I was an apprentice in Hastings to Guy Lowry and then my weight got to me, so I gave that up. I then moved to Te Akau and it has steadily progressed from there,” he said. “I started riding work, I was assistant foreman then foreman. In recent years I have travelled a lot to Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne with the likes of Sword Of State, Imperatriz and Probabeel. I have been very lucky to deal with some very good horses.”

Taking care of Imperatriz has been a career highlight for Durrant and he has been excited to follow her progress this spring after strapping her for her victory in the Gr.1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at The Valley earlier this year.

“A big highlight at Te Akau has probably been Imperatriz and to see her still winning. I strapped her in the William Reid, which was her first trip to Australia. It has been great watching her continue her winning ways,” he said.

John says “Hunter is a vary talented young horseman who has looked after a number of the Fortuna runners in the past – his experience at the Annabelle Neasham stable has rounded him off nicely and with Fortuna having three runners based in the South Island over the Summer months (Dancarina, Angels Wings and Sailing Away), it is great to have a horseman of his ability in charge.”


Fortuna Owners Day 2023 is scheduled for Sunday 10th December
Yes it’s that time of the year again – the occasion of our very popular Owners Day where we will review the successes of the past 12 months, mix and meet and we will be parading all of the Matamata based horses

Venue – Epsom Lounge – Matamata Racecourse

Time – 1pm to 4pm

Refreshments provided

Note that it is important to register your attendance as we need that for catering – please email or call/text 021 288 6997


Guest Selector – Gary Williams
As a passionate “mainlander” Cup Week is an annual rite of passage for Gary and he is right amongst it as usual – here is what he says this week

Hi John and all of the Fortuna Team

Reporting in from Cup week in Christchurch… always a fantastic week of racing action and catching up with old friends and admiring the wonderful gardens and flowers that the locals take great pride in. Being a “cross dresser” I am just back from Harness in Ashburton on a fabulous warm day with the snow capped Southern Alps as a back drop.  Everyone should do it at least once !
It’s been warm and sometimes windy….it’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs !!

Two days form to go by and even tho I pick before the scratchings [ up to 6 necessary in each race ] I’ve seen enough to be confident to label some great chances to base your bets around.  Bigger pools mean bigger trifectas and the exotic divis have been juicy.

In the time-honoured 160th NZ Cup [Race 11] I think the top weights Aljay [$7/$3] and Uareastar [$6/$2] have a definite class edge over 3200m.

In other races;
Race 1..Tasty Countess [ $5/$2 ] wide draw and lightly tried but ready to go !
Race 2…McKhan [$5/$2] ready to step up to 2000m.
Race 3….Elegant Lady [$4.50] has Opie up and should win and Bourbon Falls [$3 to place] 
Race 5…..Perfect Scenario [ $6 / $2] big weight but has fresh legs !
Race 6……Peecee Pussycat [ $13 /$4 ] ready to purr and get the cream !
Race 7…..Mary Shan [ $6 /$2 ] ticks a lot of boxes in the Group 1 for cross code owner
Race 9….Not Guilty [$ 8/ $3] ticks a lot of boxes in the Stewards providing the rails OK
Race 12…..#23 Diagon Alley [ $8 /$3 ] needs 5 x scratchings but likely to get them and hopefully gets a top jockey to wind up a great week !

Tauranga also racing and has some nice horses…..none more so than Race 6, Desert Lightning [$2.50 Win] and Race 7 Callsign Mav [$4.50]. Both should go close in the big races.

Caulfield has a lot of Kiwi interest….in the Guineas {Race 7] James McD rides Joliestar { $7 /$$2] in a strong form race, with Kimochi[$3.50 place] a likely quinella. Race 8 Ayrton {$14/$4] good value in a strong race. 5 from 5 on track. As a late -night tipple Kiwi owned Queen of the Ball could win v the favourite She Dances. 

I hope my finances survive the week and I can return South in 2024. A great week !
Gary W