Australian filly Lashed has emerged as the current leader in the quest of New Zealand Horse of the Year honors.
The 4 year-old distaffer displayed versatility and grit in defeating Deebee Belle by a half length and Hail by 1 1/4 lengths in the New Zealand Stakes (NZ-I). The race was contested on a boggy Ellerslie oval at Auckland on Feb 28.
It was the third group I success this season by the talented daughter of Encosta de Lago (by Fairy King). This $40,000 (Australian funds) acquisition by Justine and Patrick Hogan was bred by Caroline Upjohn in New South Wales.
There is irony in that her main rival at this stage is another Aussie-bred, King's Chapel. The first crop son of King of Kings collected his third New Zealand group I in his 3-year-old season in taking the transferred Otaki-Maori on Feb 19.
He won the New Zealand 2,000 Guineas but has been beaten at weight-for-age, whereas Lashed is 3-3 in set-weight racing, her only defeat when fourth in the Thorndon Mile (NZ-I) under handicap conditions.
Just two Australian-bred horses have been voted New Zealand's major award winner since it was instituted in 1972.
Lashed was runner-up in the Victoria Oaks (Aust-I) last season and has amassed $900,000 (Australian funds) from 25 starts. She will farther her fall campaign in her hometown Sydney.
The filly is trained by Stephen Autridge and Stephen Autridge, the team devastated by the loss of star filly Taatletail in a barn accident four days earlier.