When New Zealand filly La Vernazza steps out at Randwick she will be treading the same path as champion Sunline, who at her first Australian start broke the hearts of the best of Sydney’s fillies in the 1998 Furious Stakes.

A recent acquisition for trainer Jamie Richards, La Vernazza will be tackling Saturday’s 1200m feature at her fifth race appearance and comes to Sydney with a big reputation.

Initially trained by Lance Noble, the Matamata Breeder’s Stakes winner ran a slashing second behind star New Zealand colt Cool Aza Beel in the Group One Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie before spelling.

The Cambridge stud-owned filly was then transferred to Richards with a plan to chase Australian black-type in the spring.

“She’s a lovely big filly, very athletic and she can produce a good turn of foot when she needs it,” Richards said.

“She trialled well and Kerrin (McEvoy) was very happy with her work this morning.”

McEvoy is expected to ride the horse on Saturday.

“She’s up against the big timers with nowhere to hide,” Richards said.

“Hopefully if we can draw a nice gate and get a soft run we are in with a chance, but once we get to 1400 metres and the mile we’ll be better suited again.”

The daughter of More Than Ready and Group Three-winning mare Zonza went to the line under a stranglehold in a Randwick trial last week and while she is well tuned and expected to run a big race on Saturday, her main goal will be the Group One Flight Stakes (1600m) on October 3.

Richards trains under the Te Akau Racing banner which has enjoyed recent Group One success in Australia with Probabeel, Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle.

Stable star Te Akau Shark is convalescing at home following eye surgery and Melody Belle is expected back in New Zealand at the end of the week where she will be assessed before any further plans are made.

Stablemate Probabeel who ran an eye-catching second in the Show County last start, was fourth in the Furious Stakes last year before two gallant placings behind Funstar in the Tea Rose and Flight Stakes.

Both fillies remain in the care of 22-year-old travelling foreperson Ashley Handley who was born three months after Sunline won the Furious.


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