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Australian import set for New Zealand debut at Otaki

3 minute read

Levin trainer Ilone Kelly will unveil an intriguing new addition to her stable when the well-related Linara makes his New Zealand debut in Monday’s McMillan Equine Feeds Maiden (1100m) at Otaki.

Trainer : ILONE KELLY Picture: Race Images PN

Linara was bred by Milburn Creek Stud and is by Lonhro out of the Elusive City mare Fascination Street. Herself a five-time winner up to Listed level, and a placegetter in the Gr.2 Hawke's Bay Guineas (1400m), Fascination Street is the dam of two winners including the multiple Australian stakes performer Maotai.

Bought for A$360,000 as a yearling, Linara was a second placegetter at Grafton last September in his only Australian appearance. He subsequently changed hands for A$40,000 on an Inglis Digital Sale and made his way across the Tasman.

"He went up on an auction website in the spring, and that's where his new owner bought him – Graham Stewart, who's a painter from Wellington," Kelly said.

"We gelded the horse after he came over here. It's fair to say that he's been quite a handful, but he's shown some ability and has done everything I've asked."

Linara had an 850m trial at Foxton on March 7, finishing a close second behind the subsequent race winner Vavoom.

"I've been happy with him and he's going to be an interesting runner on Monday, I'm looking forward to it," Kelly said.

Linara will be ridden by Masa Hashizume and is currently rated a $2 favourite by the TAB.

Kelly will saddle two other runners on the eight-race card at Otaki on Monday. Am I Blue will line up in the Vets On Riverbank Maiden (1600m), while Tuesday brings an admirably consistent form line into the Riverstone Café Handicap (2100m).

"Am I Blue had a few good placings in a row, but then Lily (Sutherland, jockey) said she slipped coming out of the gates at Trentham last time and got a long way out of her ground," Kelly said. "She seems to be a bit happier when she's up closer to the pace.

"But she's come through the run well and has been very bright since then.

"Tuesday has been super consistent in this campaign. She's probably starting to come to the end of it now. She'll just keep going until the tracks break up, and then she can have a good, long spell. I'm really happy with how she's been going."

Am I Blue is a $5.50 third favourite for the Vets On Riverbank Maiden, with Tuesday rated a $5.50 second favourite for the Riverstone Café Handicap.

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