Kenny Rae and Krystal Williams-Tuhoro will be looking to make the most of their home track advantage with half a-dozen live chances to present at Ruakaka’s feature meeting on Saturday.
The father and daughter training partnership will be represented by multiple in-form prospects in four of the five $60,000 ITM/GIB-sponsored Winter Championship Series Finals while Van Diesel is also considered a hope at odds in the Grant Currie Memorial (1200m).
“We galloped them all this morning and there’s not one of them that won’t be a good chance on the way they have been working. Touch wood, everything is falling into place,” Rae said.
“Being here, it saves a lot of costs for our owners and we’re racing for good stake money, we’re looking forward to it.”
The stable will have two runners in the ITM/GIB Winter Championship Series Final (1400m) with Irish Girl to take on barnmate Zelenski and the former’s performance will decide if she is aimed at the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival Group One features.
“For Irish Girl, her run will tell us where we go with her. She has got to put her hand up to say she is good enough to go to Hastings,” Rae said. “We’ll make some calls on her after Saturday.”
To be ridden by Kelsey Hannan, the El Roca mare won both the Gr.3 South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) and the Listed Easter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton in the autumn before she finished third in the Gr.3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m).
Following a break, she placed in a trial and ran fourth when resuming behind Zelenski in an open 1400m handicap.
“Zelenski is still in the Winter Cup (Gr.3, 1600m), but he’s definitely not good enough to go to Hastings, he’s not a weight-for-age horse but he is on top of his game for this,” Rae said.
Apprentice Ace Lawson-Carroll has partnered the Shocking gelding in his last two appearances and retains the mount.
Sepoy juvenile Deploy will be chasing a hat-trick of wins on her home turf when she takes aim at the ITM/GIB 2YO Winter Championship Series Final (1200m) with Jasmine Fawcett to continue her association with the filly.
“She’s got plenty of ability and is eating and working well and doing everything right,” Rae said. “It looks like a glorified maiden race and she’ll be at short odds.
“I wouldn’t say she has improved out of sight, but her manners are a lot better now.”
Twice a winner as a juvenile, Follow Your Dreams claimed the Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1100m) at the beginning of this term, but the son of Contributer has failed to hit the mark since.
He will nevertheless take on the stronger of two options on Saturday in the ITM/GIB 3YO Winter Championship Series Final (1600m) off the back of a last-start fifth on the track.
“We’ve opted to run in the mile, we had set him for that and halfway through I said to the owners, we might go back to Rating 65 and get some money back, but we talked ourselves out of it,” Rae said.
“He didn’t have a lot of luck last time, but to honest he has been a wee bit disappointing.”
Hannan has a lengthy association with Follow Your Dreams as well and will take the reins.
“Kelsey started with me and she looked after the horse right through as a two-year-old and rode him in work so she deserves a chance on him,” Rae said.
Vegas Strip is the stable’s hope in the ITM/GIB Progressive Winter Championship Series Final (1600m) and the Shocking four-year-old’s recent placed form is sound.
“She isn’t without a chance, she’s had a few starts and it’s her home track so you have to give it a go. Jasmine will ride her as well,” Rae said.
Van Diesel will chase his first career victory in the Rating 65 contest and has derived improvement following an unplaced run earlier this month after a six-month break.
“I expect him to go a far better race, he might be the smoky of all my runners. Craig Grylls will ride him,” Rae said.
Story c/– NZ Racing Desk
Click on the links below to see who's on their way to the finals or to learn more about the Series itself.