New Zealand news briefs

Important Cambridge assignment for Noble Win

When Jenna Mahoney says that her once-raced maiden Noble Win is a high-quality galloper, it pays to listen.

Mahoney may not be a banner name to rank and file New Zealand punters, but that’s because she prepares horses primarily to sell or to qualify for overseas racing jurisdictions, and despite a steady exodus has enjoyed a strong season this year.

Among the horses to have emerged from her stable in recent times are Verona, who followed up a fourth placing in this year’s Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) with victory for new trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace in the Gr.3 Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick, and Inundation, who looks a potential sprinting star in Melbourne after winning his third consecutive race on June 25 with a dazzling display at Caulfield.

So her high thoughts about Noble Win, who makes his second raceday start in a 970m maiden on the Cambridge synthetic on Wednesday, are worth taking note of.

“I’d say he’s one of the most talented horses we’ve had through the barn,” said Mahoney, who trains at Byerley Park, near Pukekohe.

“He’s got the outside gate in an 11 horse field, which won’t be easy there, but he’s got a heap of ability.”

Noble Win impressed at an Ellerslie jumpout prior to his first race and was favourite for his debut at Te Aroha on January 3. He finished second to Cool Change, who has won two of her subsequent five starts, and was nearly four lengths in front of third-placed Lebanese Trader, who has also won twice since then.

“He went well but he got a little bit lost in the last stages of that race,” Mahoney said.

“He then pulled a muscle, which meant we had to wait. It’s not an ideal time of year to run him again, but there aren’t really any other options.”

Since recovering from his injury Noble Win has scored decisive victories at two subsequent trials, one of which was on the Cambridge synthetic track.

“The draw’s not ideal, but I think he’s got enough ability to have a big chance to run over the top of them even with that draw,” Mahoney said.

In addition to Verona and Inundation, several of Mahoney’s best performers have made their way to Hong Kong. One of the most notable is Time To Celebrate, a four-time winner in Hong Kong who was runner-up in the Gr.3 Premier Cup (1400m) in 2019 prior to returning to Mahoney and finishing fourth in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) on New Year’s Day.

Other good Hong Kong gallopers Mahoney has prepared include King Opie, a winner of five in Hong Kong, and the promising sprinter A Smile Like Yours, who has won four of his 13 races in Hong Kong this season.

If all goes well, Noble Win is likely headed in the same direction. To qualify for racing in Hong Kong horses need to earn a Hong Kong rating of 63, which usually means about two wins in New Zealand, from a maximum of 17 starts before they turn five.

“He’s Hong Kong-owned so the idea is to get him qualified to go over there. So he won’t stay too long if he can qualify,” she said.

Noble Win won’t be the only horse Mahoney takes to Cambridge. Tomsk, who finished third on the synthetic track in a maiden 1550m contest on June 15, steps up to 2000m for a maiden.

“He’s taken a bit of time and he’s also got a wide draw but he’s a runner’s chance if he can get it all together,” Mahoney said.

In keeping with the Hong Kong theme, Hezthewonforus, who was a multiple winner for John Size in the highly competitive racing circuit, is nominated for both a Rating 74 1500m event and the UBP Te Awamutu Cup (1600m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Mahoney is also likely to be represented at Ruakaka on Saturday week by the filly Fernandez, who will contest the ITM/GIB 2YO Winter Championship Series Final over 1200m.

“She hasn’t been able to get a draw yet but has still been running very nice races. She’s a really nice filly who only needs a decent draw to be right in it.”

Mahoney has had her best season to date in New Zealand, with career-best tallies in wins (nine) and prizemoney ($276,765), and though her focus remains on preparing and selling horses for overseas, she does have hope for some fillies that are likely to remain in New Zealand for spring racing next season.

“I’ve got a lot of time for Shez Class, who’s had a couple of starts as a two-year-old for a third and fourth. She’s owned by New Zealanders and will probably be raced here unless she goes to Australia.” 

Danny Walker enters new training partnership

It will be the dawn of a new era for Danny Walker on Saturday as he lines up his first runners under his new training partnership with long-time employee Arron Tata.

Tata, a former jumps jockey, isn’t new to the training ranks, having held a license for seven seasons, but Walker is looking forward to welcoming him back into the fold.

While Tata hasn’t trained in more than a decade, he has spent the last 20 years working for Walker, who felt it was time to reward Tata’s loyalty.

“Arron has been working with me for 22 years and it is time,” Walker said.

“We are pretty busy and we have a couple of young ones that we may take to Australia at some stage.

“He deserves to have his name in the racebook, he has worked very hard, and he is a good horseman.”

With Tata joining him in partnership, Walker said he is free to campaign a few horses in Australia over the summer months.

“After the carnivals, maybe in the summer, we might take some over,” he said. 

“I have always been thinking about it but the carnival time is too tough in Australia.

“We think Reverberations will make a nice staying horse.”

The pair will line-up their first runners under their new partnership at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Crystalize will contest the UBP Te Awamutu Cup (1600m) while Bunkers will be vying for back-to-back wins in the JF Grylls Memorial Classic (1500m).

Crystalize finished runner-up over 1200m at Te Rapa last month and the Byerley Park horseman believes the six-year-old gelding will appreciate the step up to 1600m this weekend.

“It was a nice runner-up effort last time and stepping up to a mile this weekend is hopefully going to help,” Walker said.

“He has had five runs at a mile for five seconds.”

Walker is also pleased about the wet forecast, with Te Rapa already rated a Heavy8 on Tuesday morning.

“He likes Te Rapa when it is wet, that is his go,” Walker said.

A trip south to Christchurch could be in the offing for the son Iffraaj, but Walker said nothing is set in stone.

“We will have a look at the Winter Cup (Gr.3, 1600m), but I am not 100 percent sure,” he said.

Walker said Bunkers will also lap up the wet conditions this weekend.

“She has done well and the wetter the better for her. The way the weather is at the moment, it is awful,” he said.