Star New Zealand filly Avantage has made a triumphant return to racing with a determined victory in testing conditions in the Gr.3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill.
Having her first start since winning the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings in September, the Jamie Richards-trained three-year-old rallied strongly in the straight after leading in Saturday's 1200m race to beat favourite Resin ($4.40) by three-quarters of a length.
Star Reflection ($16) was another 1-3/4-lengths away third on a track rated a heavy (8).
Avantage ($5.50), making her first Australian appearance on Saturday, took her record to seven wins and a second from eight starts which includes a Group One win in the Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) for two-year-olds in March last year.
"If anything, she probably should be unbeaten," Richards said.
"She got back last and ran home in the quickest sectionals of the day last year when she got beaten in the Sistema Stakes (Gr.1, 1200m). She's very exciting.”
Richards said Avantage had time off after the Gold Trail Stakes with a muscle issue in her back.
“She just needed a bit of time to come through that,” he said.
"But it's been a great effort by the team to get her back here in such great order.
"I probably didn't expect her to land in front but I thought it was a lovely, patient ride by Opie Bosson. He never panicked. She got headed but she's a very good filly and fought back to win well.
“We’re very proud Kiwis and we love coming over here to be competitive and representing New Zealand. It was a pretty special win to come off a decent break and she came over in really good order.”
The Gr.2 A$1 million Arrowfield Sprint (1200m) for three-year-olds at Randwick on April 13 now looms for Avantage according to Richards.
"She's always been a high-class filly and hopefully we can work through to The Championships now with a little bit of confidence that she can step up," he said.
Last season’s Champion Two-Year-Old in New Zealand, Avantage was bought by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $210,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale from the draft of The Oaks Stud.
“I bought the filly off Coolmore Stud, as a foal share with her breeders, Willie and Karen Calder,” Ellis said.
“They’re great supporters of ours, they’ve got three horses in work with us, and a Southland couple, what they’ve achieved as breeders is nothing short of amazing.” – NZ Racing Desk