New Zealand news briefs

Five-pronged attack for Sweeney

Te Awamutu trainer Debbie Sweeney will take a team of five to Te Rapa’s Wednesday meeting, including three last start runner-up performers.

Her charge will be led by four-year-old gelding Covenant in the $400k Herbie Dyke Stakes Noms 8/12 (1400m).

The son of Swiss Ace has been runner-up in two of his three career starts and Sweeney said he will need plenty of luck on Wednesday after drawing the outside gate in the 16 horse field.

“He is a really nice horse and he goes well,” Sweeney said. “I hope we get a little bit of rain for him. 

“He has got a bad draw. He doesn’t seem to be having much luck in the draw department. I think he has drawn the outside in every start.

“But he is a nice horse and as long as he gets a little bit of luck he will be a really good chance.”

Sweeney is conflicted heading into Wednesday. While she would like the forecast rain to arrive for Covenant, she is hoping it will stay away for two of her other runners.

“Our Beeskees needs a good track, so we are hoping we don’t get much rain for him,” she said. “He is really well and he is very consistent, especially when he steps up over ground.

“He got a little freshen-up since his last run at Hawke’s Bay (when eighth) and he is really well, he should go an honest race again.

“Extersea has got a good draw (3) in his race. He is on the quick back-up from Rotorua the other day. It was a good run last week. He got out in front and was leading by about six lengths and was just nabbed in the last bit and still battled on well for fourth.

“He wants a really good track. Now he is back on the better tracks he is showing what he can do.

“There is a little bit of rain forecast for Wednesday so he might be a little bit doubtful (of starting).”

Sweeney is particularly looking forward to the opening race on the card, the Beefeater Garden Bar 12/12 (2100m), where Truth Beknown and Lady Gwendolyn will be vying to break maiden ranks.

“They are very consistent and they both deserve to pick up a race soon,” Sweeney said.

“I really like both of them and it is hard to split those girls. They try really hard. They should be right in the finish on Wednesday.” 

Trentham Group Ones for Rock On Wood

Trainer Leanne Elliot is now eyeing Group One targets with consistent galloper Rock On Wood after his win in the John Turkington LTD/ Wai Pine Logging Bulls Country Cup (1400m) at Awapuni on Saturday.

The son of Redwood was victorious in the race last year and was once again piloted by Elliot’s son Ryan, who forewent the Premier day at Pukekohe to retain the ride on the family favourite.

“It was a very good run on Saturday, he went well,” Elliot said. “It was nice that Ryan came down to ride him, he is pretty committed to him.”

Rock On Wood finished runner-up to Hypnos in the Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) at Hastings first-up and Elliot was buoyed by the Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained gelding’s subsequent victory in the Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m).

“It was a good run for Hypnos and it was good to see him win down south,” Elliot said.

Elliot noted her charge is more forward this year compared to last season and she will now head south to try and snare Group One honours in the Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) on Saturday-week.

“He has had two races under his belt now and this time last year he had just had the one, so he is a little more forward,” she said.

“I am planning on going to the Captain Cook at Wellington on December 5 with him, and then the Thorndon Mile (Gr.1, 1600m) in January.

Abu Dhabi out for elusive maiden victory

Shaun and Emma Clotworthy are crossing all their fingers and toes that consistent galloper Abu Dhabi can break through for his maiden win at Te Rapa on Wednesday.

The Haradasun gelding has been runner-up in his last five starts and his trainers believe it is his turn in the Beefeater Garden Bar 12/12 (2100m).

“He is a really consistent horse, I really hope he can win this time,” Shaun Clotworthy said.

“Sometimes you don’t want horses breaking out of maidens too quickly because they are still learning their trade, but it would be quite nice if he could pick up a win now.

“He is just as honest as anything, and really deserves a turn. We will be hoping he will go close from that draw (2).”

Captain Cook assignment for Kingsclere duo

Cambridge trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood will likely hold a strong hand in the Gr.1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday-week.

The duo are set to contest the feature mile with in-form runners Hypnos and Concert Hall, who will take identical form lines into the race.

Hypnos finished runner-up first-up at Hastings in October before winning the Gr.3 Red Badger Spring Sprint (1400m) and then the Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton earlier this month.

Concert Hall has also been on song, winning the Gr.3 Thompson Handicap (1600m) and Gr.2 Tauranga Stakes (1600m) in her last two starts after finishing runner-up to Dawn Patrol first-up at Ellerslie.

“Hypnos appears to have come through his Coupland’s Mile run well,” James said. “He has had a few days in the paddock and he has been to the water treadmill and returns to the stable today.

“Concert Hall has come of age and I have been happy with her since her run. 

“They are two nice horses and the benefit of maturity is showing now. They are both in line for the Captain Cook Stakes at Wellington in a fortnight.”

Meanwhile, James is a bit frustrated with a plethora of wide draws for his runners at Te Rapa on Wednesday with a few of them likely to bypass the meeting as a result.

However, he said regally-bred filly Cheaperthandivorce and Camarosa will both make their debuts in the SVS 1400 and Win A Jetski @ SkyCity Hamilton 1200 respectively.

“Cheaperthandivroce has only had one trial and trialled up nicely and I have been pleased with her since. She has drawn nicely (4) so she will get her opportunity,” he said.

“Camarosa has been nominated that many times and drawn wide that many times she will definitely run. She is a filly with a future. She is a nice filly and whatever she does on Wednesday she will improve on.”