Who's impressing at the trials?
As we build up to racing's biggest week of the year we will take a weekly look at the trials to see who's doing what between now and New Zealand Cup and Show Week.
Rangiora Trials Wed 13th September
(Weather Fine / Track Fast)
Renegade (2g Captaintreacherous – Double Shot)
The Brendon Hill-trained runner sat back in the 2yo qualifying pace and was still giving the leaders a fair start coming to the final 400m, the raw talent was on display as he boomed home down the outer to outfinish his rivals, the leaders running home in 56.5 for their final 800m (2:02MR). Owned by a group of high profile racing enthusiasts, he was a $47k purchase at the 2022 Yearling sales when offered by Breckon Farms and while he is still a ‘work in progress’, the nature of his run suggested there was a good sized motor within.
Heart Throb (3c Sweet Lou - Justalittlebettor )
The Bob Butt trained colt went straight to the front from the stand and kept going too well for his rivals being timed over his final 800m in 56.7, 400m in 27.8.
While it was only a qualifying heat, the style of the win impressed. Of note, his dam won six and placed top three in half of her 49 race starts and raced timed in 1:55. Certainly one to paste away for future reference.
Hadron Collider (2g Sweet Lou – Pacing Delight)
The Dunn trained 2yo was not rushed early from the pole and eventually settled in 4th with the field in indian file, driver Tim Williams sent him forward with purpose inside the final 500m to challenge the leaders and he kept up a strong run to come clear of his rivals in the straight. (officially by 3L). Overall time 2:29.0, MR:1:59.8, 800m in 56.8 (time honours for the day). He has had the one raceday start (2nd place) where he narrowly went down to the smart Double Jeopardy in a sub 1:58MR and he has been well speculated on the futures markets for upcoming 2yo premier racing. He could be the 2yo ‘flagbearer’ for the country’s top stable in the coming weeks
Rakero Rocket (3g RocknRoll Heaven – Motu Pocket O’Jewels)
The Bamford trained gelding settled three deep but got caught up behind a tiring runner from the 700m and found itself many lengths from the leaders who had gapped the ‘slower’ runners at this point, made a big run out wide at the 400m and made up many lengths in the straight to officially finish 4th albeit some distance from the winner. His final 800m would have been considerably better than the 56.9 of the leading division. Interestingly, he qualified way back in early March where he easily accounted for Milou who went on to win his very first start. ‘Rocket’ also belongs to a prolific winning family.
Point Break (3g Bettor’s Delight – Break Dance)
Another from the Benny Hill stable and driven by young Seth Hill, he settled last of four before getting a nice cart into the race at the 500m, drawn wide in the home straight, he put in some big strides to gather up his rivals in the shadows of the post, the last 800m in 55.9, 400m in 27.6. The stable has always had an positive opinion about the son of Bettor’s Delight and he has been given plenty of time to mature by his astute trainer. The veteran of only three raceday starts and already a raceday winner, he looks the type that punters could follow with some confidence going forwards. He is also well related to some very good horses bred by the Cummings family of Central Otago.
Oscar Bonavena (7h Majestic Son – Nows The Moment)
The smart Purdon trained trotter elected to start against the pacers (including stablemate Don’t Stop Dreaming) and after drawing the outside of the gate settled just beyond midfield in the seven horse field. Driver Mark Purdon worked him into the 1x1 inside the final 500m and he finished resolutely to be right in the finish less than a length from winner/stablemate Luvstruck who put plenty of dash into her finish from well back on the turn. Overall time 2:29.7, 2:00.4 MR, 800m in 57.4, 400m in 28.4. As the winner of 17 races already and close to $400k in stakes, the best version of ‘Oscar’ will certainly be competitive at the highest level. In the same heat, Spirit Of Anarchy also caught the eye. The Dalgety 2yo sat last and was still there on the home turn. Young Carter got him on to the back of the eventual winner wide out and was never pulled out in the run to the line. The winner of his last two race day starts (from only four outings), he should not be underestimated in the 2yo specials coming up next month.
Cambridge Workouts Sat 9th September
(Weather Fine Track Fast)
Our Benson (3g Sweet Lou – Helena Jet)
The half brother to Nicholas Cage went straight to the front and kept going strongly to win with something in hand with 3L to his rivals.
Last 800m in 57.3, 400m in 28.0.
Last seen back in February, he was no further back than 5th in five of his initial six starts and looks a solid bet to clear maidens at least especially on the home track of Cambridge
Lovemeto (3g What The Hill – Love Ya Doosie)
The quality 3yo and last start winner of the Great Northern Trot Derby (26th May) at Group 1 level was back at the workouts on this day ... given plenty of time to find his rhythm, he settled fourth of five in indian file before improving at the 600m to take issue with the pacemaker. He was not pushed to have his neck in front at the line running his last 800m in 59.8, 400m in 29.4 for regular pilot Dylan Ferguson.
The lightly raced gelding (four wins & three placings from only eight starts) looks one to follow as soon as he reappears for the Rogerson/Ferguson partnership.
Hooray Henry (5g Auckland Reactor – Outback Girl)
The winner of five and a very meritorious second at his most recent start at The Park (31st August) was given a quiet trip by trainer/driver David Butcher sitting fourth of four in his trial and never pulled out in the home straight behind the pacemaking Joilmont, last 800m in 57.8 off the front.
Also placed second eight times in a 22 start career, he missed his 4yo season completely due to injury and is now making up for lost time.
His dam Outback Girl is from the good mare in Cold Front who won seven for the late Jeff Crouth.
Pukekohe Workouts Fri 8th September
(Weather Fine / Track Fast)
Nicholas Cage (4g Art Major – Helena Jet)
The Neal trained winner of six (from only 16 starts) popped out of the trail with a mile to run in the faster class pace and proceeded to get further and further ahead of his 2 rivals, eventually winning by an official 12L. The overall time was nothing flash but he did run home in 57.5/27.9.
He hasn’t started since a beaten fav behind The Big Lebowski back on the 19th May but did win the Founders Cup at Group 3 level earlier in the year beating early NZ Cup favourites Akuta And Copy That.
Aardies Peak (3f Peak - Megaspeed)
The talented Dunn trained trotter was on her best behaviour, settling at the back of the bunch and staying there until the final 500m. In the hands of Brent Mangos she had little trouble rounding up her opposition, last 800m in 58.5, 400m in 28.3.
She wasn’t on her best behaviour as a beaten fav on 31st August with an early mistake ruining her chances but there is no doubting her talent and she has placed in Group 1 company earlier in year.
Dam Megaspeed is a half to the well performed Prime Power (16 wins + $266k).
Melsadele (3f Orlando Vici - Wheresmemum)
The one win trotter, trained by the Wallis/Hackett partnership stood on the mark in the Aardies Peak heat and took no part but came out later in the programme and took on top open class trotters Bolt For Brilliance (20 wins) and All Cashed Up (10 wins). In what turned out to be a sprint home, 400m in 28.9, she did extremely well to stay within 3L of her highly credentialled rivals.
It is worth noting that she campaigned in Australia earlier in the season at Group 1 level, running 2nd in the NSW Trot Derby and 4th in the NSW Trot Oaks in her only 2 starts on that side of the Tasman.
Bolt For Brilliance, the winner of nearly $700k in stakes was making a return to the track after being away for 8 months, since that ill-fated Inter Dom campaign in Australia back in 2022. Trainer/driver Tony Herlihy did not over exert his charge in the run home after leading throughout.
Lady Of The Light (4m Bettors Delight – Steel The Light)
In the hands of regular driver Maurice McKendry, the Jeremy Young trained mare took time honours on the day, running a 2:02MR, 800m in 57, 400m in 26.8 for the mob 2050 mobile. She was asked to cross her rivals at the start from the outside of the gate and kept going strongly to win with some authority.
As the winner of 6 from 22 starts and $135k and placed against the best mares at Group 1 level, she looks to have come back bettor than ever and again looms as a strong prospect against her own sex wherever she is placed in the coming weeks.
The Moonstone (2g Monkey Bones – Landora’s Jewel)
The Chilcott trained young trotter, who created such a big impression in his first campaign (winning 2 of 3 starts) was given time to balance up before taking over
and stayed on too well for Paramount Kiwi, last 800m in 60.9 and 400m in 28.8, these 2 being well clear of their rivals.
Directly tracing back to top mare Landora’s Pride, The Moonstone could be the one they all have to beat in the 2yo specials coming up later in the season.
Paramount Kiwi qualified back in July but is as yet unraced. The son of Father Patrick was not pushed to get within 1/2L of the winner for trainer Matty White
He too is from a family full of good winners including Paramount Geegee (17 wins + $561k), Paramount Queen (8 wins + $122k) and Paramount King (8 wins + $156k) and should not be underestimated when making his raceday debut.
Winton Workouts Friday 8th September
(Weather Fine Track Good)
Forever Arden (4g Always B Miki – Young Teagan)
The Wayne Adams trained maiden was parked initially before being restrained to race fourth and four deep in indian file, out at the bell to force the issue then took over 1200m out, stretched the field right open last 800m with the official margin 4 1/2L at the line (untouched). He ran the 2400m mob in a 2:00.5 MR, last 800m in 55.8, last 400m in 27.5.
Only qualified in early September but with those numbers, his patient connections should not have to wait long for a winning reward.
Westar Molly (5m Changeover – Pandoras Rose)
Winner of this heat With A Bang led throughout and ran his last 800m in 56.8, 400m in 27.7. Molly was last of five at the 400m in indian file, came on a solo run around them on the home turn and got within 1 1/4L of the winner, under her own steam.
Now a 5yo and previously with the Hope stable at Woodend Beach, she has only raced five times in the last 2 years .
The winner of two lifetime from 10 starts, her last win was at Addington in November 2021. Now her Canterbury owners have transferred her to the Invercargill stable of Jeremy Douglas and based on her trial effort, could be one to follow in her new home province in the deep south
Wyndham Workouts Saturday 9th September
(Weather Fine Track Fast)
Pembrook Playboy (6g Bettors Delight – Dudinka’s Star)
The Nathan Williamson trained open class pacer trailed Netherton Franco (3 wins) throughout, was only asked for an effort in the last 150m and used the passing lane to get his nose in front on the line, last 800m in 56.2, 400m in 27.6.
The winner of 11 of his 37 starts and nearly $200k in stakes, he was last seen back in January when 2nd to Macandrew Aviator in the Northern Southland Cup.
After a slow and deliberate build up this time in, his NZ Cup campaign will follow a similar path to last season with a fresh up run in this week's Hannon Memorial at Oamaru.
Also likely to be targeting the ‘Hannon’
One Change (6g Bettors Delight – Changedown)
The Amber Hoffman trained gelding distanced his lesser performed rivals over 2000m (Mob) in a 4 horse trial on the Oamaru track (6/9/23).
More importantly, the winner of 19 from 48 starts was timed to run his last 800m in 55.9
In his last race day apperance back in April, he was just edged out by Franco Norton in the Winton Businesses Cup after starting off 35m behind.