Hot favourite Habibi on track for NZ Derby at Ellerslie

Press Release – Auckland Racing Club
Trainer Donna Logan says the weather may decide if Saturday sees a mouth-watering prelude to New Zealand’s greatest race, the TV3 New Zealand Derby.

Logan trains unbeaten superstar filly Habibi, who is the $4 favourite to win the Derby and is nominated for the Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa on Saturday.

That puts her on a collision course with last-start Wellington Stakes winner Weissmuller, who is now the clear second favourite for the Derby at $6.

But Logan says while she is keen to head to Te Rapa, the scorching northern summer may play a role in her final decision.

“The weather has been so hot all the tracks are very hard at the moment,” says Logan.

“And I am not sure about risking her there if they stay that way.

“So I will see how the weather looks going forward and if I think the track will be fine then we will be there.

“But I don’t have to panic about it because we have the Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie on February 17 as a sound second option.”

Logan says it is even possible Habibi could race in both if she lined up this Saturday and took no harm from the race.

“I don’t think she needs two races but the Avondale Guineas appeals because it is around Ellerslie and the more experience she has there the better heading toward the Derby.”

Habibi looked sensational beating many of our best male three-year-olds not once but twice at Ellerslie’s The New Zealand Herald Christmas Carnival and has thrived since.

“We are lucky that we can work her at the beach, which has meant she hasn’t had to gallop on a hard track much.

“Although the Ruakaka track is sandy so it is not that bad. But the beach also gives them variety.

“She has thrived since her wins at the Carnival and I couldn’t be happier with where she is at.”

Even if Habibi and Weissmuller do not clash this Saturday they are still likely to give racing fans a preview of things to come in a fortnight now that they are both good chances of contesting the Avondale Guineas.

The TV3 New Zealand Derby third favourite Zinko is also nominated for Saturday’s Guineas, a race which last year was quinellaed by eventual New Zealand Derby winner Silent Achiever and subsequent Cox Plate hero, Ocean Park.

The TV3 New Zealand Derby will be run at Ellerslie Racecourse on Saturday 2nd March 2013.

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