Lizzie L'Amour delivers more Ellerslie Group One success for Moore Thu, 16 Mar 2017

Richard Edmunds
Lizzie L'Amour (Matt Cameron) defeats a game Benzini (Rosie Myers) in an exciting finish to the New Zealand Stakes.
Lizzie L'Amour (Matt Cameron) defeats a game Benzini (Rosie Myers) in an exciting finish to the New Zealand Stakes.
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Ellerslie has been a field of dreams for owner-breeder Lorna Moore, who enjoyed another special triumph at the Auckland track today with a Gr. 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes victory for her lightly raced mare Lizzie L’Amour.

It’s very familiar territory for Moore, who just over a decade ago celebrated two Group One wins at Ellerslie with her homebred Zabeel mare Bazelle in the Auckland Cup and Zabeel Classic.

Zabeel died in the spring of 2015, but the champion Cambridge Stud stallion once again took centre-stage this afternoon. His four-year-old daughter’s hard-fought win in the New Zealand Stakes made her Zabeel’s 46th individual Group One winner, moving one ahead of his own champion sire Sir Tristram.

“This is unbelievable,” a visibly moved Moore said. “It’s been a bit of a wait, but it’s wonderful to get another Group One win.

“I’m thrilled for Lizzie, and I’m also thrilled for Zabeel who was equal with Sir Tristram and has now gone ahead of him. He’s been a big part of our success.

“It’s magic. For a small breeder, Group One races mean everything.”

Bred and raced by Moore in partnership with her husband Gary, Lizzie L’Amour was making just her 11th career start in this afternoon’s weight-for-age showpiece and her first at Group One level. She had previously made a name for herself as a stayer, headed by victory in the Gr. 3 Waikato Cup over 2400 metres in December, and she was overlooked at double-figure odds for today’s start over 400 metres shorter.

But a frenetic early battle for the lead set things up beautifully for both Lizzie L’Amour and last year’s Brisbane Cup winner Benzini, the two best stayers in the 10-horse field, whose stamina shone through in the straight.

Lizzie L’Amour and rider Matt Cameron strode to the lead more than 250 metres from home, then withstood a fierce late challenge from a fast-finishing Benzini to her inside. They fought a desperate battle through the last 100 metres, with Benzini clearly getting the better of Lizzie L’Amour before the mare fought back and scored by a half-head.

It was the second time in three years that Matt Cameron has won the New Zealand Stakes on a horse trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, following Sakhee’s Soldier in 2015.

“She’s a Group One winner now, which is fantastic,” Forsman said. “She doesn’t have to do a whole lot more.

“The little bit of give in the ground today was key for her. She had a few starts on hard ground in the summer and it just found her out a bit. We gave her a break and the ground was perfect for her today.

“She came into today looking great. She looks so much stronger than she used to.

“This was a very good effort. It got quite messy out of the straight, but in the end that played into our hands because it made it a bit of a staying test. Two of the better stayers fought out the finish.

“We always knew this mare was good enough to do something like this, it was just a matter of when. We thought next year might be her time. But it’s great to see her do this.

“She’s still got it all ahead of her. It’s just a matter of deciding what distances and what races might be the most suitable – we’ll discuss it with Murray and Lorna. Sydney could be an option, or she could even be a Caulfield Cup horse in the spring.”

Lizzie L’Amour has won five of her 11 starts, placing in another two and earning more than $220,000 in prize-money. Cameron has been aboard for nine of those starts, winning five.

“She travelled so sweetly all the way today and finished it off really well,” he said. “Zabeels are always going to be better with age, so she’s really exciting.”

Benzini’s gallant run for second was his first start since he took on the world and ran a commendable sixth in the 2400-metre Hong Kong Vase in December.

Sound Proposition was another runner who produced an eye-catching late run into third, a strong comeback performance after suffering cardiac arrhythmia in his last start in the Zabeel Classic on Boxing Day.

Zabeel Classic winner Consensus was fourth, just ahead of the $1.70 favourite Kawi, who was boxed in on the inside until around the 300-metre mark but couldn’t really quicken once in the clear.

“It was a nice enough run, but he just didn’t fire like I expected him to,” rider Jonathan Riddell said.