NZ Covid extension means Avantage will be at Caulfield on Saturday

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has played a big part in the plans to send nine-time Group 1 winner Avantage to race in Melbourne on Saturday.

Ardern announced an extension of New Zealand’s latest Covid-19 lockdown until at least midnight on Friday for all areas except Auckland, which will stay in lockdown until at least next Tuesday.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand cannot hold race meetings under its version of Stage 4 restrictions.

Trainer Jamie Richards said the lockdown extension was likely to ensure Avantage would travel midweek.

“If that’s the case, I’d say she’ll be getting on the plane and coming over on Wednesday,” Richards said.

But Avantage was unlikely to run in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m).

Richards said the change in plans was likely to mean an unwelcome clash with classy stablemate Probabeel in a Group 3 race.

“I just put her in the Memsie as a back-up, but she’ll more than likely run in the Cockram (Stakes),” Richards said.

“Although she has to run against Probabeel, which we don’t really want to do, kicking her off over 1400m isn’t ideal.

“She’s quite a round, good doing thing and I’m just not quite sure what we’re doing on Saturday.”

Avantage is likely to race against her classy stablemate Probabeel in Saturday’s Group 3 Cockram Stakes at Caulfield. Picture: AAP.Source:AAP

Richards said he and owners Te Akau Racing were unsure what program Avantage would follow during the spring. The Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington in October was a possibility.

Racing Victoria’s move to offer a $1m bonus to the winner of a designated lead-up race and the Empire Rose Stakes made the event more attractive to Avantage’s connections.

Avantage is eligible for the bonus if she wins the Empire Rose Stakes as she won the Group 1 NZ Breeders’ Stakes in April.

“We’ll just take it one run at a time, we’ll just be guided by how she comes up.

“Obviously the Empire Rose has got some appeal because she’s already won a Group 1 and she’s eligible for that million-dollar bonus.”

TAB has noted Avantage was unlikely to run in the Memsie Stakes, posting her as a $15 chance in opening betting on the $1m event.

Last year’s winner Behemoth is the $4 favourite ahead of the triple Group 1 winner Tofane at $4.50 and Colette at $6.

Another Kiwi, NZ 2000 Guineas winner Aegon is an $11 chance.

Originally published asAvantage coming but Memsie unlikely

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