(NZ) raiders arrive in Australia

New Zealand raiders Zurella and Pussy Willow are due to arrive in Australia next week for spring campaigns in Melbourne and Sydney.

Zurella (Zabeel) will cross the Tasman following a pleasing track gallop at Ruakaka on Wednesday.  Despite her cantankerous nature, Zurella has always been held in the highest regard by trainer Shaune Ritchie.  “I’m really excited about her four-year-old season,” said Ritchie.  “She has furnished both mentally and physically since her three-year-old days.

“She’s stronger now but isn’t as aggressive even though the antics are still there.  I’m happy with her progress but she will need a good track to show her best.”

Zurella is a homebred for Dick Karreman of The Oaks Stud and she won the G2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic and G3 Eulogy Stakes on the way to a runner-up finish in the G1 New Zealand Oaks last season.  She will kick off in the Let’s Elope Stakes at Flemington on September 8 on the way to a possible start in the Caulfield Cup.

“Flemington is a big roomy track which suits a big striding filly like her.  I just hope the weather gods play their part but don’t expect her to be that competitive first up.  I will step her up over ground second-up to try and qualify for the Caulfield Cup.”

Pussy Willow (O’Reilly) will commence her Australian preparation in the G2 Furious Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on September 9.  She finished a pleasing first-up fourth when going down less than a length at Taupo on Monday.

Unbeaten as a two year-old, the Stephen McKee trained filly had won on debut at Ruakaka in January before claiming the G2 Wakefield Stakes at Trentham.  She is raced by her breeders Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan and Peter Walker.

“Everything’s good with her, she’s come back more mature and we’re looking forward to what’s coming up,” McKee said.  “We decided to skip the Silver Shadow Stakes this weekend because it would have been a waste of time taking on those fillies over 1200 metres.

“But there’s plenty of scope for her to step up and be competitive in the rest of the Princess Series.”