By Duane Ranger
Albion Park has been a happy hunting ground for the Kiwi owners of likely Queensland Oaks favourite, Our Princess Tiffany.
Manawatu couple, Braeden and Caroline Whitelock, who operate Braeside Lodge at Linton near Palmerston North, won the coveted Oaks seven years ago with their Christian Cullen mare, O Baby.
They also won a supporting race that year with stablemate, Minnie Moose.
Our Princess Tiffany, who had her fist start at Albion Park since running second in the Group One Harness Jewels Final on June 1, will start from barrier four.
She is the long odds-on favourite ($1.10) in Saturday night’s $100,000 Group One Three-year-old feature for the pacing fillies.
It is the sixth event and kicks off at 7.33pm.
“She’s a good chance, but we all know in racing that there’s no such thing as a racecourse certainty. We have been favourite before and been beaten,” Whitelock said.
“Her trial was encouraging, and then even though she went a bit wide on the final turn last week, she did win well first-up last Saturday. I’m not sure why she had a bit of trouble negotiating that last bend. Perhaps it was the heavy rain.”
Our Princess Tiffany convincingly won her trial at Albion Park with a 1:51 mile rate the week before her half-neck victory (1:55.4) when sitting parked on Saturday night.
The gifted daughter of Art Major and Dancing Diamonds (by Bettor’s Delight) goes into Saturday night’s 2138m mobile unbeaten in six starts in Australia.
She also won the Group One 2018 Breeders Crown 2YO Final at Tabcorp Melton, and the Group One NSW Oaks at Tabcorp Park Menangle in March to go with last week’s Group Three South East Oaks victory at ‘The Creek’.
All-up she has now won 14 of her 18 starts and placed in three others for $646,844 in stakes.
Her other Group One victories include the New Zealand Oaks at Addington Raceway on May 17 this year; the 2yo Harness Jewels Diamond 2yo Final in June last year; and the Caduceus Cub 2yo Fillies Classic at Alexandra Park in April last year.
“I don’t like to think beyond the next race with her. What she does next is up to her trainers (Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen),” Whitelock said.
“I doubt the Queensland Derby the following week will be an option, but the Breeder’s Crown in August is a possibility.”
Whitelock said that even though his filly had “freakish talent” he was also well aware of her capabilities after racing.
“I don’t want to race her for too long. Mark, Caroline and I will talk about that. Obviously long-term she will make a lovely broodmare. Caroline and I only ever breed from four mares. I’m not sure why, perhaps its because we have four sons and four daughter-in-laws,” the former Junior All Black said.
Tiffany Whitelock (nee Naylor) is the wife of Adam, a former New Zealand rugby 7s rep. Tiffany’s father Brett, was an Olympic swimmer.
Our Princess Tiffany won first-up in Brisbane last week, just hours after Sam Whitelock and his Canterbury Crusaders team defeated the Jaguares 19-3 in the Super Rugby Final.
Whitelock, who has captained the All Blacks and will attend his third World Cup this year, is one of three Whitelock brothers to have played for the All Blacks.
Oldest brother, George, who now runs the family farm, and youngest brother Luke, are also former all Blacks who have played one and eight tests for the All Blacks. The latter has also been AB’s captain.
“We like to name our fillies after our daughter-in-laws. For example Kayla Marie (five wins & $201,470) is named after George’s wife (nee Sharland), who is a former captain of the NZ Black Sticks hockey team,” Whitelock said.
"Neighlor (two wins) is also named after Adam’s wife. Then there's Hannah Sue (an unraced 3yo Bettor's Delight - O Baby filly) who is named after Samuel's wife, Hannah (nee Lawton), and Minnie Moose’s 2yo filly Claire Bear was named after Luke's wife, Claire (Laredo).”
Whitelock flies to Brisbane with his wife and two friends on Saturday morning.
“We are looking forward to the trip. We have won at Albion park before and hope that trend continues. I’m not sure whether we will stay on another week. It all depends how she comes through the race, and what Mark has planned for the horse after that,” Whitelock said.