Change of pace for Stonewall after huge week

By Michael Guerin

After the fun of sales week it is back to work for trainer Steve Telfer at Alexandra Park tonight.

Not that that won’t be fun too as he gets to unleash five of the beautifully-bred fillies he was handed to train last year.

Telfer and his sister Amanda are the trainers for South Auckland racing and breeding operation Stonewall Stud, whose already enormous involvement in the harness racing industry went to a completely different level this week.

Stonewall boss Steve Stockman was in imperious mood at the yearling sales purchasing 21 lots including many of the best bred stock available in one of the greatest displays of buyer strength ever seen in New Zealand.

It means the Telfers, already premiership contenders, could well be favourites for that title if not next season the one after and Steve Telfer admits it is heady stuff.

“It is amazing to be given the opportunity to train so many of the best bred horses in the country so I can only thank Steve for that,” says Telfer.

But while many would think that comes with enormous pressure, Telfer says Stockman isn’t that sort of owner.

“He is unbelievable to deal with and while he loves the horses and comes down the stables to see them he never insists we aim certain horses at certain races.

“So there isn’t that sort of pressure, more the pressure to do the job these horses deserve.”

The sales buy-up, while much larger this year, is not new for Stonewall which is mainly why they have five beautifully-bred fillies in tonight’s first juvenile filly race of the season at Alexandra Park.

Ironically the best of them may be Forever Me, a daughter of champion Adore Me, who didn’t go through the sales ring and was retained by her breeders to race with partners.

“We have a lovely bunch of fillies but I think she is the best of them right now,” says Telfer of Forever Me.

“She has always had that touch of class but last week at the workouts two of our others (Kahlua Flybye and Aardiebytheseaside) beat her home, which surprised us.

“I think she was a bit flat with the heat and humidity we had last week but she has really bounced back this week so she is our one to beat.”

Telfer warns punters Forever Me may not be the leader in the race, with Aardiebytheseaside and the Purdon/Phelan trained Art D’Or expected to have too much early speed. If that is the case it could also play against Kahlua Flybye, drawn one on the second line.

The first fillies race of the season adds a freshness to tonight’s meeting that also sees a good mid-grade trot in which Aardiebythehill looks the one to beat while Taipo finds himself in the right race in the main pacing free-for-all.

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