Special moment for Neil Lee as filly Hotzilla makes her race debut at Mt Barker Turf Club

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Track rider Julia Kershaw aboard Hotzilla on Wednesday morning.
Camera IconTrack rider Julia Kershaw aboard Hotzilla on Wednesday morning. Credit: Cameron Newbold

Three-year-old filly Hotzilla makes her racing debut at Mt Barker Turf Club on Sunday and holds a special place in trainer Neil Lee’s heart.

Lee trained quality mare Catzilla, who won seven races and placed on 16 other occasions for nearly $90,000 in prizemoney.

Hotzilla is the only foal to come from Catzilla before she died in a float accident.

The debutante will compete at the first meeting of the Great Southern racing season when she tackles a 1000m maiden on Sunday.

MBTC is set to hold six out of 20 meetings in the Great Southern and opens with a seven-race program highlighted by the Michelle Parsons Memorial.

Mt Barker Turf Club on Tuesday.
Camera IconMt Barker Turf Club on Tuesday. Credit: Taj Stubber

Lee said Hotzilla would also be a special horse for him.

“It was Catzilla’s first and only foal before she passed away,” he said.

“She was a bit of a local favourite and a very good mare who won plenty of races.

“Hotzilla will always hold a special place because she is the only foal out of Catzilla.

“She has the ability to win races, she has shown a bit so we will just wait and see.

“I will be happy if she is as good as her mother.”

Trainer Neil Lee leads Hotzilla and track rider Julia Kershaw out.
Camera IconTrainer Neil Lee leads Hotzilla and track rider Julia Kershaw out. Credit: Cameron Newbold

Hotzilla trialled three times as a two-year-old before running second in a 600m barrier trial in Albany last Friday.

Chris Nicoll will ride Hotzilla from barrier two and with 54kg.

“It was a good trial, she is a work in progress and hopefully she makes the grade,” Lee said.

“It’s her first-ever race so I will be happy with an average performance.

“She is a three-year-old going up against horses of all ages and with more experience.

“Her work has been good and I was happy with her work (Wednesday) morning and her manners are good so hopefully she can put it all together.”

Lee will also saddle up Vital Boom at the season opener.

Tough mare Catzilla on her way to one of seven career wins.
Camera IconTough mare Catzilla on her way to one of seven career wins. Credit: Laurie Benson

Shaun McGruddy, Kyra Yuill, Chloe Azzopardi and Ryan Hill head the list of jockeys coming down.

In total there are 12 apprentices booked for rides in Mt Barker from 21 riders in total.

Leading trainer Steve Wolfe will have 10 runners engaged while Roy Rogers will saddle up eight runners as they look to resume their rivalry from last season.

The first race will be held at 2.15pm while the last race, Michelle Parsons Memorial Handicap will be run at 5.35pm.

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