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CAMBRIDGE STUD NORTHLAND BREEDERS STAKES -- SAT SEPT 14
Bill Colgan
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CAMBRIDGE STUD NORTHLAND BREEDERS STAKES -- SAT SEPT 14

Sunline the best and Bundy Lad the next, but will Madison County prove up to those horses this spring. Photo of Melt winning last year courtesy Trish Dunell.

3YO NORTHLAND STAKES TRANSITION FROM 2YO RACE

The Group 3 $70,000 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders Stakes for three-years-old horses at set weights is on this Saturday, 14th September.

Back in 2011, at the suggestion of the Graded Stakes Committee the Whangarei Racing Club created this event to replace their listed two-year-old 1200metre event, known then as the Westbury Stud Northland Breeders Stakes, and was usually held in July.

At the time the late, former Whangarei Racing Club President and Ruakaka-based trainer Dean Logan, indicated the race had been under a warning for a couple of years and was not attracting the fields or calibre of horse it had in the past. He is quoted as stating:

"The Graded Stakes Committee recommended we programme a set weights three-year-old event that would attract the three-year-olds looking for a nice lead up race to the likes of the Hawkes Bay Guineas, and the Soliloquy and Bonecrusher Stakes, …”

The race was first run as a listed two-years-old event in 1991 and was won by Lodore Lady. At her next start after her win, she won the listed Wanganui Guineas and later that spring won the group two Lindauer Guineas and beat the older mares in the group two Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes. As an older horse she won the group three Radio Pacific Stakes and the listed Foxbridge Plate.

The next year the event was won by Bundy Lad who also went on to win the listed Wanganui Guineas, before running second in the Cambridge Breeders' Stakes. Following that he crossed the Tasman and won the group two Bill Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley. The following spring, he won the group two Liston Stakes and the year after that he won the listed Foxbridge Plate before going to Melbourne to claim the group two Memsie Stakes. He won 10 races in all.

The next winner was Awesome Ways who went on to win 11 races in all including a group three, followed a couple years later by Furama Nights. She was group placed six times before winning the group three Dermody Stakes.

Sunline won the race in 1998 before she swept the world before her and three years later Leica Guv scored on his way to winning the New Zealand Derby and group two Avondale and Lindauer Guineas. That was the year Vapour Trail ran third just ahead of the subsequent group one winner Egyptian Raine.

However, in the years after this the quality of place-getters and runners did not meet this exceptionally high standard and the important status of being internationally graded as a Listed Race was under threat.

Antonio Lombardo was the first winner of the event for three-years-old after having won four races as a two-year-old including the group two Waikato Stud Two-Year-Old Classic and the listed Wellesley Stakes.

The honour roll of winners, see table below, of the Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders Stakes highlights the quality horses who have placed in the race and justification for its upgrading to the internationally recognised, and acclaimed, Group 3 status in 2017 and its prizemoney being elevated to $70,000.

Year

Winner

Second

Third

2018

Melt

Madison County

Reevederci (AUS)

2017

Prom Queen

Aim Smart

Felton Road

2016

Heroic Valour

The Soultaker

Wyndspelle

2015

The Justice League

Selfie

Rocanto

2014

Vespa

Copy Watch

Riding Shotgun

2013

El Roca (AUS)

Gobi Ranger

All Decked Out

2012

Sacred Falls

Southern Lord

Travino

2011

Antonio Lombard

Moirai

Perfect Katch

The recently released NZ Pattern Committee released their review of the 2018/19 season and the rating of the 2018 version of the Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders Stakes was above the critical rating required and is internationally benchmarked.

After eight years of the three-years-old format of the race the decision to switch from a two-years-old race has been highly vindicated by the lift in status but the two years-old winners in Bundy Lad and Sunline would have to be the best winners out of both versions of the race.

Perhaps this spring in Melbourne Madison County will challenge those two for the mantle of the best winner of the Northland Breeders Stakes, from either age group.

Previous Article NZ TAB expert "The Shark" makes these selections for Ruakaka today.
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