Keast hunting Fillies Final spot with Vesnina
By Garrick Knight
Punters may have been caught off guard by Vesnina’s excellent debut effort at Methven earlier this month, but her trainer wasn’t.
The daughter of A Rocknroll Dance went close to winning the Nevele R Fillies Series heat but had to be taken ahold of by driver Bob Butt 50 metres from the finish, and ended up third paying more then $50 on the tote.
“I was absolutely rapt with her that day,” Keast told HRNZ.
“I’ve always liked her since the day she qualified as a two-year-old.
“She actually qualified behind Belmont Major of Tom Bagrie’s and I remember when I was pulling up, Johnny Dunn came up beside me and asked what she was.
“He said they really liked their horse and she’d done well to push him close.
“From that day on I thought we really had something.”
Vesnina heads to Ashburton today tackling the next heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series and Keast is quietly confident she can at least place and qualify for the final.
“I’m happy enough with her without being overly happy.
“After sitting down to either celebrate with a cold Speights or drown our sorrows on Saturday night, I think we’ll have a discussion about giving her a couple of weeks off after this.
“A few should slide off the radar between now and the Final in May, so hopefully a placing this week will get her in the field.“
Laymen watching the Methven run probably made the assumption that Vesnina is poorly gaited based on her action over the final 150 metres when chiming in and looking like a winner.
“She does wear the big, thick spreaders and can hit a knee but Bob actually said she just got lost wide out on the track in the open and panicked.
“She’s just got to get a brain to go with her motor and I think that will come with maturity.”
Keast was an interested observer at Addington on Thursday night when the Robert Dunn-trained Heroes Square won his debut by 14 lengths.
“At the trials last month she led in to the straight and was going to beat him by five or six lengths but she galloped with about 100 to go.“
He gave her another trial a week later and then she raced that following weekend.
“So, she had a pretty big 10 days and that’s part of the reason I just freshened her up a little bit.”
Debuting in a Nevele R heat wasn’t actually the plan, but a trip to Nelson early last month ended up being a disaster.
“I took her up there and she went out on the track on the first day and just sat down on the track.
“She had to be scratched and then the Stewards wouldn’t let her line up on the second day without a trial.
“I tried to say to them the owners had paid $500 in costs to get her there, but they weren’t budging.”
If Vesnina can win today, she’ll replicate her mother, Azarenka, who won a heat of the same series at Blenheim in 2013 when trained by Craig White.