Connections of this year’s New Zealand Derby winning filly Habibi are happy with the three-year-olds’ progress ahead of her Aussie debut this Saturday on Golden Slipper Day in the Vinery Stud Stakes 2013.
The daughter of Ekraar has been a picture of consistency since her winning debut last October, Habibi going on to take out six of her seven starts to date.
Her only defeat was a third in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) off a 47 day break, her longest gap between runs so far, in February.
She atoned for that loss last time out however when hitting the front over the final 100m of the Group 1 NZ Derby (2400m) to win the Ellerslie classic on March 2.
That run convinced her trainers Donna & Dean Logan she could be competitive down under during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival with the main aim being the $550,000 Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 20.
In the latest Australian Oaks odds Habibi is the $4.60 second favourite trailing only the Clarry Conners-trained Dear Demi ($4.20) and sitting just ahead of Bart Cummings’ Flight Stakes winner Norzita ($6).
It is a price that is sure to firm should she win her first Australian start at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, Habibi to face off against both Dear Demi and Norzita in the $400,000 Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
Of the top trio it is Norzita heading the Vinery Stud Stakes betting markets at a quote of $2.60 followed by Habibi at $4.40 and then Dear Demi, who drew wide with gate 15 of 15, at $4.80.
The perfect barrier three draw has Habibi well positioned too with her regular rider, the now Adelaide-based Vinnie Colgan, to continue his association with her in the Vinery.
Last year’s New Zealand Derby winner was also a filly, the Roger James-trained Silent Achiever coming to Australia on the back of her Group 1 win to finish a close third to Laser Hawk in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) before an Australian Derby sixth.
Habibi’s trainers are hoping she can be just as, if not more, competitive in the Vinery Stud after a nice gallop on Tuesday.
“She galloped well on Tuesday morning and that was pretty much her final piece of work and she will fly over to Sydney on Thursday evening,” Donna Logan said.
“We’re more than happy with her and she’s probably a touch underdone, but she’s got the flight there and we want to keep some petrol in the tank going toward the Oaks.
“She’s not wound right up yet and will improve from the Vinery, but that’s the way you want it.
“She had seven weeks between the Championship Stakes and the Avondale Guineas and then into the Derby and that didn’t worry her at all.
“We’ve X-rayed all her legs and joints and they are 100 per cent clean so there have been no problems at all. It’s all pretty much fallen into place and no issues to be worried about.
“She hasn’t flown before and she’s got to adjust to a new environment so they are unknowns at this stage, but she is usually very relaxed so we’re hoping she handles all that and I think she will.”
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