The Ben & JD Hayes-trained Excelida (Exceed And Excel) has enhanced her chances of a trip to New Zealand after swooping from near the rear of the field to land the Allan Wicks Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield in impressive fashion.
Raced by Cambridge Stud proprietors Brendan and Jo Lindsay, connections are considering sending the five-year-old mare to New Zealand for a tilt at the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on February 12.
Placed at Listed level and runner-up in the Gr.3 The Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (1400m) the start prior to Sunday’s win, Jake Noonan was the recipient of a late call-up, replacing carded jockey Michael Dee who was one of a number of jockeys unable to ride at the meeting due to a COVID exposure.
After stepping slowly, Noonan didn’t panic and enabled Excelida to find her feet before charging home widest of all to prove too good, winning by three-quarters of a length from Paperboy (Written Tycoon) with Sig Positano (Canford Cliffs) third.
“We’ve just kept her fresh and happy at home, she had a couple of weeks in the paddock, ticking over, keeping her happy and I was very impressed with that win today,” Ben Hayes said.
“We weren’t expecting to be that far back but when she missed the start, credit to Jake he went to plan B – I don’t think many horses have made ground from the back of the field today so it adds merit to the win.
“Heading to New Zealand is definitely an option, we’ll have to talk to Henry (Plumptre, Cambridge Stud CEO) and Brendan (Lindsay) and everyone involved but it is something we have been talking about doing and today gives us a bit more confidence.
“It was only a benchmark 78 but she won it quite impressively and all you can do is win like that. She’s been in great form this preparation.”
Noonan, who has enjoyed partnering with Ben and JD Hayes in recent times, was delighted to get another victory for the in-form stable.
“This horse’s form has been really good and Ben (Hayes) gave her a great push, he was very confident and he just said if she gets a clear run she will just win,” Noonan said.
“I didn’t step that clean and just had to ride my race from there and be patient. I knew I was on the best horse and I knew I’d get there in time – her class prevailed.”
Bred by Trelawney Stud in partnership with John and Di Struthers, Excelida is a daughter of Exceed and Excel and Lady Sayyida, an Iffraaj half-sister to multiple Group One winner and successful sire Ocean Park, and to the dam of the dual Group One winner and sire Grunt.
Excelida failed to get in foal during the spring, but is racing well and will join the Cambridge Stud broodmare band next season. -NZ Racing Desk