Matai Geordie finally debuts
By Garrick Knight
It’s been over a year in the making, but Peter and Vaughan Blanchard will finally get to roll out Matai Geordie for his debut on Sunday.
The Pukekohe father-and-son training partnership acquired the Washington VC gelding out of Southland as a three-year-old in May last year and brought him north with quite high expectations.
But a nagging illness meant the horse will be one month shy of turning five before he steps out on race day for the first time.
“When he came up he just wouldn’t stop coughing,” said Vaughan Blanchard.
“It went on for three or four months and we tried everything.
“So eventually we just turned him out for a good spell.
“He got sick on the way up, which some do, but we couldn’t get him right.”
Recovered and refreshed, it has been smooth sailing for Matai Geordie this time in and he’s won two of four workouts, the most recent last Saturday on his home track in Pukekohe.
“We were pretty happy with the way he trialed.
“He had done enough without being outstanding in the first three runs, but we had purposely been quiet with him.
“Last week was the first time we really asked him the question and he did it well.”
Matai Geordie does not meet a strong field on debut and a horse with his credentials is expected to go close to winning.
“We’ve got to start somewhere and this looked like the right place to kick him off.
“He’s done most of his work left-handed and that’s one of the main reasons we chose Cambridge over Auckland.
“He’s still learning every day and we just thought it would be good for him to start in an easier field.
“That being said, I haven’t even looked at the field so can’t say too much about it.”
Blanchard says they rung up and bought Matai Geordie off his former trainer, Alex Milne, after seeing a video of his qualifier.
“We had brought another Washington VC off Alex, Matai Valour, and he came up here and did a good job.
“This horse was the same, really, and we think he is as good, if not better.
“He’s a January foal too, so has probably been a little slower in his development and that’s another reason we were happy to wait on him.”
The stable also takes Charlotte Royal to Cambridge and, while she’s drawn the outside in her race, she presents as clearly the best horse in the field.
She has a 1.55.5 mile win at Alexandra Park on her record and anything close to that will see her going close this week, reckoned Blanchard.
“We’ve had a few that have struggled with bad blood the last month to six weeks and she was one of them.
“But we are confident we have rectified that and she’s on the way back up.
“We trialed her last week and she was right there with Copy That, who won last night, and beat Perfect Stride, who pushed Zeuss Bromac close.
“So, the form looks good out of that trial and with her good gate speed, we are expecting a much-improved run.”