The Trials ‘Report Card’
We are back at the trials for 2024, so what was worth noting from all over the country for the week ending 31/1/2024?
St John Eight (3c Always B Miki – Zenardle) Tr. G & J Dunn
Qualified at Rangiora (25/1/24) four 4 secs under time after getting to the front and clearing out by 4 1/2L from three rivals untouched in run home. Bred and still owned by Lew Driver, he is a half to a host of good winners including Elroy Jetson (32 wins + $291k + 1:50), Balfast (20wins + $253k + 1:53) and Luke John (8 wins + $158k) and looks to be way better than a maiden.
Princess Meritan (5m A Rocknroll Dance – The Princess) Tr. B Butt
Set the pace against a star studded Purdon ‘brigade’ (all five of them) and said goodbye on the home turn winning officially by 5L, home in 57.4 for her last 800m. Bred and owned by Brian O’Meara, she has only had the two raceday starts, the last back in April of last year but did win on debut, fourth in the other, and it is suggested that if she can hold together this campaign, she looks one to follow in the short term.
Roy Kent (2c Captain Crunch – Snooki) Tr. A Herlihy
With the ‘sales’ just around the corner, there is much interest in those sires leaving early 2YO types so early in the season and one sire kicking some goals is Captain Crunch. This colt looked very professional going to the front (Alex Park / 26/1/24) and just when it looked like he would be headed, without too much urging from his trainer, he kicked back to win nicely, last 800m in 58.0. His dam, who Herlihy also trained, won nine and this is her third foal. The first two already winners in sub 2 min MRs before being onsold.
Doo You Want Me (2c Captain Crunch – Delightful Lana) Tr. S Doody
Central Districts trainer Stephen Doody made the long trip up to Pukekohe (25/1/24) and in the hands of Brent Mangos, made it all worth while when his charge made the lead then cleared out by some 11L at the line, last 400m in 28.6. He looks a very mature type and on that run should be seen going around in the early ‘Young Gun’ heats. He has some breeding to live up to as his dam is a half to the very good Australian pacer in Rock N Roll Doo (12 wins + $458k + 1:50) who came across to contest the NZ Cup in 2022.
Ted (3c Sweet Lou – Claire Bear) Tr. M Brown
Bred by Woodlands Stud principle Andrew Grierson and placed in the Southland stable of Murray Brown, the handsome colt, named after a famous All Black coach, and still unqualified at this time, went to Winton (26/1/24) and after racing fifth of six and still being last at the 400m, roared home wide out to pick up the pacemaker in impressive fashion, last 800m in 57.0. He has plenty of breeding to live up to with his dam (by Somebeachsomewhere) being a full sister to the 1:49 pacer Funathebeach and belongs to the ‘Moose’ family so successful for the Whitelocks over a number of years. This boy is the first foal of his unraced dam.
Ultimate Weapon (3g Bettors Delight – Reality Check) Tr. N Williamson
Back here at the workouts (Winton 26/1/24) after disappointing in two runs over the holiday period, the well related gelding trailed two and three deep before getting out at the 400m and finished determinedly, albeit comfortably, to grab pacemaker Wild Bull in the shadows of the post, last 800m in 56.5. Not looking as good as his illustrious full brothers at this stage but surely good enough to win at short notice in the deep south. Did place on debut as a 2YO and from the right stable.
Bluto (4g Sweet Lou – Beach Parade) Tr. Anderson & Love
Trailed three and four back at Wyndham (27/1/24) and last of five at the 400m, brought wide and finished strongly to get up in a 2:03.6 MR. Showed any amount of promise as a 3YO and thought good enough to take on the best 3YOs at the premier meetings. Only 11 raceday starts to date and connections have been patient after disappointing fresh up on this track at beginning of this year. High strike rate stable and very capable of rewarding those loyal to the cause.
Lovemeto (4g What The Hill – Love Ya Doosie) Tr. Rogerson & Ferguson
The five win mare (from only 12 starts) started against the pacers (2) at Cambridge (27/1/24) and after trailing third throughout, finished stylishly without being pushed to get within a 1/2L of smart mare Idolou (3 wins from 4 starts), last 800m in 59.9. Getting ready for a new campaign, last raced November last year and with $124k already in the bank, can be expected to take another step towards the open class ranks
Follow Your Dream (3f Bettors Delight – Just A Dream) Tr. R & J Dunn
Up in the north to prepare for the Magic Millions sale race for 3YO fillies in a couple of weeks, trailed out in her heat at Pukekohe (31/1/24) before popping out at the 600m to lead and kept going strongly to win well from Aye Aye Captain who also went solidly, last 800m in 57.7, 400m in 27.6. Thereabouts last season against the best 2YO fillies and with expected improvement, could threaten ‘the guns’ !
Duchess Megxit (3f Sweet Lou – Kensington Kate) Tr Purdon / Phelan
One of those guns, maybe the ‘top gun’, Duchess Megxit started in the next heat (Pukekohe 31/1/24) and sat fourth of five before getting carted up in 1x1 by Hadron Collider from the 600m, smart finish to nail that runner on the line in sharp last 400m (27.3). Massive Group 1 winner as a 2yo at Addington late in the year and she looks like the filly to beat in the next ‘big dance’ in Auckland middle of February. There was plenty to like about the Dunn runner in second place, just a nose away
Cold Chisel (3c Always B Miki – Shezaball) Tr. Purdon / Phelan
Another getting ready for the Magic Millions, last season’s richest 2YO colt trailed third (Pukekohe 31/1/24) before taking issue with the pacemaking Coastal Babe 500m out, did best over that runner final 50m with the last 400m in a slick 26.9. Was right up there against the best of his age as a 2YO and gives the stable a very strong hand in the upcoming $200k feature (potentially four stable reps). Coastal Babe only beaten a small margin in second and looks right on track for her Magic Millions assignment. Le Major trailed and a nice third after not being asked for a true effort over the final stages. Another runner capable of mixing it with the best 3YOs in what is going to be a very strong field.
Dave Duley (3g Bettors Delight – No Liability) Tr. R & J Dunn
Looked a maiden full of promise (Pukekohe 31/1/24) when trailing three deep then up to challenge 400m out, just getting the bettor of pacemaker Sea Of Love who went equally as well. (800m in 56.9, 400m in 27.2. Has only had the one start at Addington but did qualify at ‘the Park’ and should be very competitive against ‘non winners’ at least.
Ohoka Nico (3c Sweet Lou – Albuquerque) Tr. D Keast
Deserves a mention just because he is a half to champion and unbeaten filly Millwood Nike and at Rangiora 31/1/24, he easily qualified against one rival running a 2:01MR, last 800m in 58.9, 5 secs under the required standard. Led throughout and not pushed to win. Only the third foal from a mare where first two (both fillies) have gone sub 1:55. Stands out because of his big white blaze, typical of so many by the sire, but likely to stand out even more when he decides to line up at the races.
Ukraine (2c Captain Crunch – Back In The USSR) Tr. B Butt
Second trial win for this impressive son of Captain Crunch in as many weeks, settled third of three in his heat (Rangiora 31/1/24) then swept up wide on the corner to race away from his rivals, last 400m in 28.4. Again, he looks like a very mature type so early in the season and could be the ‘benchmark’ around the Canterbury area at this time.
Madrid (3f Bettors Delight – Georgia Brooke) Tr M & N Purdon
Yet another horse getting ready to head north for the Magic Millions in Auckland, trailed out in her heat (Rangiora 31/1/24) then out to lead 500m, kept up strong run to win impressively, last 800m in 57.3, 400m in 28.6. Proved very competitive against the best of her age group as a 2YO and no reason why she shouldn’t be so again. Stable never to be underestimated.
Chase A Dream (3c Captaintreacherous – Secret Lotion) Tr. M & N Purdon
Stable out in force in this heat (31/1/24) with the top rated colt working to the lead after 400m and kept up a strong run to win untouched but super impressive with great sectionals 1:59.9MR, 800m in 57.2, 400m in 27.8. Looming as the horse to beat in the rich 3YO race at Auckland. Stablemate Treacherous Baby also heading north and fought on from the trail. Another stablemate Vessem settled last then improved in the open last 700m to be right there on the final corner, didn’t flinch in the run home, he too adds to the puzzle in what is a quality group of 3YO colts and geldings