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1976 NZ OAKS: Won by Swift Princess

1976 NZ OAKS

Swift Princess probably earned herself the ranking of top three-year-old filly for the season with her clear cut win in the NZ Oaks. For one who didn't score her first victory until Boxing Day 1975 - a race she was subsequently disqualified from over an infrigement of the seven day rule - the Play Bill filly has made dramatic progress and the Oaks win was her fifth in six races.

Still the indications were there earlier than the George Cameron-trained youngster would be well above average. She had only two outings as a two-year-old, at the second of these running third behind Daring Donna and Smokey Lopez in the Rangiora Raceway Stakes. After being beaten a length by Smokey Lopez in the Waitaki Hanover Stakes at Kurow in August, she filled a similar position behind the same gelding in the First Canterbury Stakes on the opening night of the National meeting in August and on the second night of that meeting was fourth, Smokey Lopez, Direct Magic and Scotch Wallace being ahead of her with the winner coming his last half in better than even time. Her form then fell away slightly and she did not reappear at the Cup meeting and by-passed the Champion Stakes at Ashburton to score he initial victory against the maidens.

It was this win which was later taken from her along with a heavy fine for her trainer but the filly was now showing more of her of her true form. After being placed at Reefton, she took the President's Stakes at Hororata and again hit the headlines for the race, alleged interference to Lord Burlington starting something of a controversy in Canterbury which still has to die down. If the headlines bothered Swift Princess it didn't show. She then took the Nevele R Stakes in March, finished brilliantly to take the Richards Memorial at Methven from a c3 field and finished a gallant fifth in the Rattray Stakes on the first night of the Easter meeting against a c4 field after having done most of the donkey work in that event.

Freshened for her Oaks bid with her usual quota of beach training at New Brighton, she stripped for the race a credit to the long experience of her trainer and was given every chance by young Ian Cameron who has handled her in all her races. She didn't look like throwing it away over the final stages and had one and a quarter lengths over Kiatina who made a surprisingly bold bid considering her disappointing recent form.

The favourite Olga Korbut held on for third though inclined to run about in the straight. The Lordship filly seems to lack that shade of brilliance which made Noodlum such an attraction and there is no doubt that her slowness to get into full stride early is costing her dearly. Again well back in the Oaks, she was taken to the front at the 1200m and looked ready to turn on a real staying performance when apparently pacing easily at the 600m. Her earlier effort told over the final stages however. Still I timed her to come her last mile in a shade over 2:05 which was a fine effort in the conditions.

Bronze Queen, who had to come wide on the turn to get a run, being another staying type who needs time to find her feet, battled on for fourth ahead of True Anna. Northerners Gymea Gold and Rondogra didn't really get into the race though neither were well served in the draw and both got well back in the field early. Gymea Gold didn't really fire while Rondogra showed speed to improve from the 800m but died away a little later to finish ninth. Of the other favoured contenders, Billie Burke did her chances by breaking at the start and came home behind Rondogra.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in NZ Trotguide

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