Talented Kiwi filly Sofia Rosa is set to return to Sydney for the 2016 Australian Oaks after she returned to winning form in the Mongolian Khan Royal Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Sofia Rosa made her racing debut with a third place finish in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton Park on May 2 and she earnt a trip to Australia after she took out the Heart Of Hawke’s Bay event at Hastings on August 29.
She made her Australian racing debut in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 19 and she was settled slightly worse than midfield by jockey Brenton Avdulla before she pinched plenty of ground coming around the bend and she battled home to the line to finish sixth behind Pearls.
Sofia Rosa was given an opportunity at Group 1 level in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 19 and she was settled at the tail of the field in the early stages of the race and never looked like a winning chance.
The daughter of Makfi returned to New Zealand racing in the Rentokil Initial Handicap (1300m) at Ellerslie on December 5 and she produced a strong effort to return to winning form and she was well-backed in the lead-up to the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, but she clipped heels and fell at the 350 metre mark.
Amazingly, Sofia Rosa took no harm from the nasty incident in the Eight Carat Classic and she showed plenty of toughness to hold on and claim victory in the Group 2 Mongolian Khan Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie less than a week later.
Trainer Stephen Marsh revealed after the race that he thought Sofia Rosa would hit the deck again, but he was thrilled to see her return to winning form and he is now eyeing a tilt at the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick during The Championships.
“I thought she was going down again, but she’s very tough and she stuck to her guns,” Marsh told the media after the race.
“To bounce back like that is a credit to her and I’m really proud of her.”
“We might look at a one hit mission in the Oaks over there.”
New Zealand-trained fillies have an excellent record in the Australian Oaks and the likes of Rising Romance (2014), Daffodil (2009) and Grand Archway (1999) have been successful in the race in recent times.