Zurella announces herself in Let's Elope

8 September 2012

It’s not only the Northern Hemisphere stayers the locals have to worry about in this year’s Caulfield Cup, the Kiwis are also mounting a charge judging by the performance of Zurella in today’s Let’s Elope Stakes at Flemington.

Shaune Ritchie’s classy four-year-old mare launched her maiden Melbourne campaign in style when she stormed to an impressive win in the $220,000 Group 2.

The 1400-metre race was won last year by subsequent Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker and Ritchie said one of the Spring Racing Carnival’s signature events was also what he had in mind for the daughter of Zabeel.

“We’re trying to get her in the Caulfield Cup,” said Ritchie, son of Bonecrusher’s trainer Frank Ritchie.

“She’s a lovely-boned filly who was always going to develop into a lovely four-year-old and it’s good to see her right on track.

“They’re only going to get stronger from here, as we well know, but she’s handled herself very well in this shorter race. We’re delighted with what she’s done today and we’re very proud of her.”

Craig Newitt settled third-last on the fence aboard Zurella, who was held up for a run rounding the home turn and didn’t get into the clear until the 250m but let down impressively once in the clear.

The $10 chance powered home to score by three quarters of a length from Hi Belle ($8.50), who also hit the line well, with Total Attraction ($7) a head away third.

Lady Melksham, the well-backed $2.90 favourite, endured a wide run early but battled on for fifth, just over two lengths from the winner.

The Let’s Elope was Zurella’s first start since finishing second to stablemate Miss Artistic – who also resumed in the Let’s Elope, finishing seventh – in the New Zealand Oaks in March and took her record to five wins from nine starts.

“She’s pretty good,” Newitt said upon dismounting. “She sat back, they didn’t go overly quick and they just got her off the bit a little bit before the corner, but I gave her a stoke up and she really picked up underneath me.

“She’s a big, strong mare, she barged her way into the open, and she savaged the line really good.”
Ritchie said Zurella’s next start would be in the Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield on 22 September.