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American Empress ready for Mares’ feature

NZ HARNESS NEWS

 As a three-win mare from 34 races, American Empress looks like one of the lightweights on paper for the Premier Mares’ Championship at Addington on Friday night.

She was in fact a one-win mare up until Christmas, but a lot has changed in the meantime.

Up against such good mares as American Tart, Better B Amazed and Bonnie Joan, there is no question the four-year-old is in this week’s Group Two feature up to her ears.

American Empress has had some hard racing lately, but she has been thriving on it.

Three starts back she won in a national record 1.54.8-mile rate for 2200m in Auckland and then she never flinched when fourth to Juice Brogden after forcing the issue while parked for American driver David Miller.

Only Bettor Joy could run her down at Addington last weekend in a 1.55-mile rate and that was just a week after that tough run at Alexandra Park.

This form has really only franked her efforts as a filly last season, when she was third in the Ladyship and Sires Stakes behind Spanish Armada and Delightful Memphis.

“She’s been bouncing back through her races really good and she seems even better again for her race last week, said her trainer, Jeremy Young.

“We couldn’t be happier with her, really.

“I expect Better Be Amazed will come out for a look (for the lead from barrier three) and Dexter will punch through (on Bonnie Joan), so we’ll just be trying to get in somewhere handy in the running line.

“She’s been running the times and, although this will be another step up for her, we’ve got a healthy, happy and fit horse and I’m sure she’ll acquit herself well.

“Having said that, I think she’ll be even better in another 12 months and she has a lot ahead of her – this is just the start of a lot of fun.

“For the moment it’s just great that several of her Christchurch owners will get to see her race in the flesh.”

Young purchased American Empress as a weanling for $8,500 at the Mixed Sale at Karaka and she is owned by Pukekohe’s Paul Curran along with Hazel van Opzeeland, Kenny Moore and the Zinnycef Syndicate.

Moore and the members of the syndicate are old schoolmates from Lincoln High School, while Young stables his horses at the property of Curran’s adjacent to the Pukekohe track.

Hazel van Opzeeland is back in Canterbury after a stint working for Woodlands Stud.

“The syndicate is managed by Todd Butts. His father was a greyhound trainer but Todd’s right into his horses.

“They just put in $25 a week but they’ll be getting quite a thrill out of seeing American Empress in some big races down here.”

Young, who is staying at Steven McRae’s stables, also bought the two-win American Ideal mare Lynbar Rose for $2,200 at that sale for the same owners so is rather pleased with his early efforts.

“As a young trainer starting out you don’t have much of budget and I couldn’t afford to be looking at Bettor’s Delight colts.

“But at that stage American Ideal had already produced some top fillies and I reasoned they could be within my budget.

“I spent 18 months working for Bunty Hughes and he had The Orange Agent, while American Empress was a half-sister to another nice mare in the stable at the time called Steel The Light.”

Steel The Light’s first foal is a very nice yearling colt by Bettor’s Delight in the upcoming Australasian Classic.

“That’s the only yearling I’ve looked at so far actually and I’m trying to put something together to buy him, although I expect we’ll be blown out of the water.”

But Young doesn’t expect to be getting blown away in the Premier – far from it.

 

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