Belle Of Montana staying

Star three-year-old filly Belle Of Montana may well be owned in Australian, but fans over there will have to wait a while longer to see her in the flesh.

Her trainer, Barry Purdon, confirmed today that the last-start Group 1 winner on New Years Eve would stay in Auckland rather than head to Sydney.

The $125,000 Group 1 Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park on March 1 is just one day before the A$200,000 New South Wales Oaks Final at Menangle.

The former being on her back doorstep, and then three six-figure Group 1s in Canterbury were too enticing, according to Purdon.

“We’re staying here at the moment.

“Unless something changes, we’ll go to the Nevele R heat on February 22 and then the Northern Oaks a week later.”

Come May, there are three races in Canterbury in the space of 22 days totaling $440,000, including the New Zealand Oaks and Harness Jewels.

But one race Belle Of Montana will miss at Addington is the Listed $150,000 Yearling Sales Series Final on February 15.

With main adversary Wainui Creek ineligible, the northern filly would have had the race at her mercy, but she can’t contest it.

“She’s ineligible; a payment was missed,” said Purdon.

Belle Of Montana has only been beaten once in five starts to date and surprised many by winning on all three nights at the Auckland Summer Carnival, including the Group 2 Ladyship Stakes and Group 1 Sires Stakes Series Final.

Wainui Creek will also miss Australia and follow the same path as Belle Of Montana.

“We’re keen on being as easy as possible with her this season so there was never any serious thought about going to Australia,” said her trainer, Richard Aubrey.

“She’s Breeders Crown eligible and I guess if she was still going strong at the end of winter we could consider that.”

Aubrey said he and the connections endured a pretty sombre start to the New Year when Wainui Creek effectively threw away a Group 1 win on December 31, switching off when looking home and getting reeled in by Belle Of Montana.

“There were a few factors, but ultimately her greenness cost her.

“To be perfectly honest I thought that was her big opportunity to win a Group 1 for the season.

“There are some really good fillies coming through down here in Christchurch – it’s a pretty strong bunch – and then there is Belle Of Montana and Princess Tiffany too.”

Rather than bring her home to Canterbury, Aubrey left Wainui Creek in Auckland with Maurice McKendry and she’ll stay there until the Northern Oaks on March 1.

“She’s in good hands.

“She’s not eligible for the first two Nevele R Series heats down here so we figured we’d save her two 24-hour float trips and leave her up there.”

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