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Queen Elida heading to NZ early

Brent Lilley (Left) and Chris Alford pictured with Queen Elida - Photo: Stuart McCormick
Brent Lilley (Left) and Chris Alford pictured with Queen Elida

Photo: Stuart McCormick

Australian-based top Kiwi horseman Brent Lilley is taking his star trotting mare Queen Elida back “home” earlier than planned. 

Lilley confirmed the multiple Group One winner is booked on a flight to Auckland next Wednesday, so she can prepare for a lead-up race ahead of the inaugural $575,000 TAB Trot at Cambridge on April 12.

Queen Elida will tackle the $60,000 Gr.2 Waikato Flying Mile Trot  at Cambridge on April 4.

But first, the five-year-old will chase another Group One victory in Saturday night’s $75,000 Sumthingaboutmaori free-for-all (2760m) at Melton.

After a rare form slump by her standards, Queen Elida has bounced back to win her past three starts, largely back in easier grade against her own sex.

But she hasn’t looked her brilliant best doing so.

“There’s a reason for it,” Lilley said. “She jarred-up quite badly on that Albion Park track at the Inter Dominion and we’ve had pads on her feet since while she covers.

“The pads are great, but they tend to take some of their speed and brilliance away.”

The pads come off this week and won’t be sighted in NZ.

“No, her feet are perfect again now so the pads come off,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll see that trademark speed of hers back, too.”

Despite only racing her own sex, starting from outside the back row (gate 13) will still make Saturday a big challenge for Queen Elida.

“The longer distance (2760m) helps a bit, but there’s some lovely mares in the race and they’re all drawn better than her,” Lilley said. “She’ll to be back close to her very best to beat them from that draw, but we think she is.”

The $575,000 TAB Trot is being run for the first time and is shaping as the strongest trotting race in more than 20 years, headlined by Aussie stars Just Believe and Callmethebreeze, along Kiwi pin-up trotter Muscle Mountain.

Under the preferential barrier draw conditions of the race, Queen Elida, who runs in the TAB NZ slot, will get the huge advantage of barrier one as the only mare in the race.

“That preference draw is so important, especially around a track like Cambridge where the pegs and passing lane are so valuable,” Lilley said.

“She’s quick out, so we’ve got options, but sitting behind the leader, hopefully one of those big guns, would be ideal and give her every chance.”

The TAB Trot will be a special race for Lilley given he is a Kiwi and Queen Elida is owned and bred in NZ by Gordon McKenzie, Tony Barron and their families.

While there are a range of other feature race options for Queen Elida in NZ beyond the TAB Trot, Lilley said she would return home to Victoria.

“There’s a Group One race for her in Sydney in early May, which is ideal as it’s just for mares,” Lilley said.

Queen Elida is chasing a hat trick of wins the race, which was called the La Coocaracha in 2022 and changed to the $100,000 Gr.1 Macarthur Mile last year. - Adam Hamilton


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