Wagga preview: Norm Gardner confident Flora Bel is ready to blossom with change of tactics

There was a time when trainer Norm Gardner was thinking big with his Bel Esprit filly, Flora Bel.

A winner of three of her first six starts, the now five-year-old mare hasn’t been able to win again in her subsequent 18 starts.

That is not to say she won’t win again says Gardner whose faith in the well-bred bay could be rewarded when she lines-up in the Inland Power Handicap at Wagga on Friday.

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“She did look very promising,” Gardner said. “But she had a lot of issues, a lot of feet problems – that was the big one for her – and firm tracks really knocked her around but they’re all sorted out now.”

Flora Bell has finished out of the medals in both outings this time in but gave her loyal supporters a sight on each before fading out.

Top racehorse and stallion Bel Esprit is the sire of Flora Bel.Source:News Limited

“She is running up to them but not really finishing it off so we will ride her a little bit differently on Friday, we will ride her a bit quieter and see if she will just finish off,” said Gardner.

“She’s working and she is going well and it’s a lovely race for her.”

Whether Flora Bel retires to stud this spring or the next, she has everything required to make a successful broodmare, pedigree included.

Not only is she by the same sire as Black Caviar, her fourth dam is Wiley Trade, the mother of the beloved Melbourne Cup winner, Subzero.

Gardner is naturally keen to head back to Wagga on Friday, or anytime at all, with his track specialist Stand Your Ground.

The daughter of unbeaten galloper Fighting Sun has raced 21 times so far, 13 of which are Wagga returning three barnstorming wins together with four placings.

Stand Your Ground just gave away too much ground (no pun intended) when flashing up late at Goulburn two weeks ago.

“She hasn’t been on a track this wet before but up to a mile again on Friday, I am hoping she will be a bit closer rather than back last,” Gardner said.

Mathew Cahill rides Flora Bel for Norn Gardner. Photo: Grant GuySource:The Daily Telegraph

“I think I’ll probably pull up stumps after this run. Perhaps later in the year she could go to some of those Canterbury night meetings.

Dancin’ Till Dawn, like the abovementioned Stand Your Ground, also has barrier one in her Riverina assignment, namely the Quickprint Class 1 & Maiden Plate (1600m).

“I just whacked a set of blinkers on her because the last couple of runs she has just tried to hang-in in the straight,” Gardner explained.

“I worked her in the blinkers the other day and I think they’ve really improved her so I expect a big showing from her.”

Gardner’s busy day at Wagga kicks off in race three when Eurozone filly Markova steps out for the only the second time in her career after an encouraging debut fourth at the Sapphire Coast 10-days ago.

“She has drawn well this time and she handled the wet track all right the other day,” the trainer said.


A drop in weight, a step up in trip and Winona Costin in the saddle are the three reasons why trainer James Ponsonby reckons the Wagga bound Prince Six will be his sire Fiorente’s 93rd winner.

Prince Six was bred by Chautauqua’s owner Rupert Legh and foaled at Victoria’s historic Blue Gum Farm; the original home of Encosta de Lago, as well as Rancho Ruler, Rubiton and Noalcoholic.

Blue Gum sold Legh’s colt for $100,000 at the 2018 Premier Sale in Melbourne.

Later gelded, Prince Six had eight starts for trainer Mark Newnham finishing runner-up at three of them at Newcastle, Wyong and Gosford respectively.

Prince Six turned in an encouraging first run for Ponsonby in a Port Macquarie maiden over the mile on May 31 with the dual obstacles of the outside draw and the top-weight.

“There was no pace in the race and the horse did a really good job to keep trucking on but then he got blocked for a run late so you could say he was a bit unlucky,” Ponsonby said.

Trainer James Ponsonby feels the drop in weight and extra distance will suit Prince Six.Source:Supplied

“He drops from 60.5kg down to 56.5kg and the race on Friday is only a 100m further but on his run the other day, it is going be a very desirable thing and he gets Winona on board so, there are a lot of positives there.”

Prince Six’s ‘wet form’ reads as four starts on Soft/Heavy for no placings but he does in fact boast some big-name wet track influences in his pedigree namely More Than Ready and Success Express.

“The races that he has run in on heavy tracks, he has been ridden extremely aggressively and we showed that the other day that when the horse is not ridden as aggressively early and is allowed to find his feet, he is a better horse,” Ponsonby said.

Ponsonby, meanwhile, is chasing another TAB Highway win tomorrow at Randwick with recent Wagga Guineas fourth-placegetter Statesville who has once again drawn a wide alley.

Statesville has her regular rider and inaugural TAB Highway winning jockey Winona Costin back aboard.

From the Golden Slipper to the championships, Sky News takes a look back at the wonder of the Autumn Racing Carnival….

From the Golden Slipper to the championships, Sky News takes a look back at the wonder of the Autumn Racing Carnival.

Originally published asWagga preview: Bel to ring in overdue win

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