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Pearl Series proving a popular option for New Zealand owners

Acquisto wins the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race over 1600m at Hastings 29/1/15 - Photo courtesy of Race Images Palmerston North
Acquisto wins the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race over 1600m at Hastings 29/1/15

Photo courtesy of Race Images Palmerston North

A stunning home straight dash carried promising three-year-old filly Acquisto to a last stride victory at Hastings last Thursday that provided her smiling connections with double the reason to celebrate.

Not only was it the second career win for the stakes placed daughter of Thewayyouare but it was also the second helping the filly had taken from the New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Pearl Series Bonus prize pool.

The New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association administered scheme was introduced in 2013 to benefit owners, trainers and breeders of thoroughbred fillies racing in New Zealand. The scheme provides bonuses of almost $2.6 million and prizemoney of nearly $2.8 million across 215 individual races over three seasons' racing for fillies and mares nominated as yearlings.

About to commence its third year of operation, the Pearl Series has been a popular addition to the New Zealand racing scene as evidenced by those trainers who are now setting their racing programmes to specifically target a slice of the scheme's bonus pool.

"Acquisto was the first filly we registered for the scheme back in 2013 and it's proved to be a very wise move," admitted part-owner Chrissy Bambry.

"She has only won two races to date but they were both races where the midweek $11,500 bonus applied. She has won just over $22,000 in prizemoney in her career to date but has effectively doubled that with the two bonuses she has won.

"While we think she is a filly who can compete at a high level we have specifically set her for the Pearl Series races to try and boost our returns whenever we can.

"We definitely believe in the scheme and this year we will nominate another three of our yearlings that will be eligible so hopefully we can get amongst it when they are ready to get to the track."

A total of 650 fillies were initially registered for the scheme in the first year of operation with another 475 in year two. NZTBA Chief Executive Michael Martin expects that number to swell for year three now that the programme is in full swing.

"We have been delighted with the registrations since the scheme's inception and I think we may be in for a record number this year," he said.

"We have had over 20 bonuses struck already this season and we're now seeing trainers send their fillies and mares around the country in an attempt to win them.

"You only have to look at a filly like Dramatist as a great example of this. She initially won a $25,000 rating 65 race at Otaki with the $20,000 bonus attached so effectively it was a $35,625 result. A fortnight later she raced at Banks Peninsula and won a $12,000 rating 75 Race with an $11,500 bonus attached so picked up $54,125 for her connections in just over two weeks.

"While the scheme is proving very popular I think one of the biggest added benefits is that it has forced New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing to look at their entire programming for fillies and mares and I believe we now have a far more robust structure in place."

Registrations for the 2015 edition of the Scheme close on 31 July with a fee of $920 applicable. An early-bird registration is available which closes on 28 February at the reduced price of just $690.

Full details on the New Zealand Insurance Pearl Series can be found at www.nzthoroughbred.co.nz – NZ Racing Desk