Imola found line strongly


Not a lot should be read into Imola’s 36-length romp over open-class pacers Dream About Me and Have Faith In Me at the Rangiora workouts on Wednesday.

But the talented five-year-old Jereme’s Jet gelding has come up well for a new campaign and Canterbury trainer Gavin Smith is looking at a resumption next weekend, possibly in the $30,000 New Brighton Cup (2600m) at Addington on Saturday.

Imola had been off the scene since December when he resumed at the Rangiora workouts 10 days ago and won narrowly over Have Faith In Me with a 40-metre head-start, with Dream About Me in third.

This week he had the same advantage over that pair, along with Alta Orlando and Franco Christiano, and the backmarkers decided to simply have a workout amongst themselves.

“We began quickly and probably put another 10m on them,’’ said Smith.

“I thought we went the first mile pretty easily, but when I looked around the backmarkers hadn’t made up much ground at all.

“I wanted a good hit-out so I let Imola run along a bit from there and he basically finished 40m ahead of them,” he added.

Imola won the 2600m trial in a sedate 3:23.9, but stomped home from the 800m in 55.7sec, the last 400m in 26.5, and hit the line very strongly.

Imola was a last-start winner at Rangiora in December, a week after finishing second in the Akaroa Cup.

But then he “popped a quarter crack” and Smith decided to give him a spell.

“He could have come back a lot earlier, but as he’s always gone so well on the grass tracks, I thought we’ll give him a good break and target the grass meetings in the spring.

“I learned a lot about him last year. He’s not a big horse so I wasn’t working him that hard, but he was disappointing me at times, so I decided to pile the work into him as a last resort and he never stopped improving.

“With that in mind he does a lot of galloping everyday and he’s come back better and a lot stronger – he’s been hitting the line like a demon and I think we’re going to have some fun with him now.”

Imola (five wins) is likely to resume at the Methven meeting on Sunday week, but Smith has not ruled out the New Brighton Cup.

“We’ll look at the field for Addington and if it looks a bit light again, we might chuck him in there to help the club out.

“I don’t know if he’s going to measure up to the top ones, but he’s going good enough to give one of those early open-class races a good shake.”

With a run under his belt, Smith will then look to the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru the following week.

Imola is raced by his breeder Aidan Johnstone, an NZ Metro club committeeman who has nominated him for the NZ Cup, a vision not exactly shared by Smith.

Meanwhile, Smith has sold last week’s impressive Addington winner Admiral, who came from last at the 400m to record his second win in four starts.

A three-year-old Auckland Reactor gelding, owned by breeders Trish Dunell and son Cameron Mackie, Admiral will race from the small Victorian stable of Paul Caruana.