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Marsh holds strong Classic arsenal

Stephen Marsh has no shortage of promising three-year-olds in his Cambridge barn, but he’s not deploying too many of them in early spring black type races.

Marsh will send Fonsalette to the Gr.3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings on Saturday, the next step towards the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm 49th New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 13.

He also has a number of potential candidates for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai 49th New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton a week earlier, but he’s keeping most of them closer to home rather than aim at the Listed El Roca – Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m) at Hastings this weekend.

“It’s a long drive to Hastings and the Napier-Taupo Road is pretty winding, so I’d rather not make that trip more than once with some of them,” Marsh said.

Among his three-year-olds with the 2000 Guineas in mind are El Vencedor and Hoard the Bourbon, both of which are likely to race at Taupo on Friday.

El Vencedor was second on debut as a two-year-old to Farrenc, who subsequently finished third to Imperatriz in the Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m), but he blotted his record by finishing sixth in a 1300m maiden at Cambridge on September 2.

Hoard the Bourbon has raced just once, running on stoutly from the rear to finish fifth to Mana Nui at Te Rapa on September 4.

“We got it a bit wrong with El Vencedor last start – he raced very fiercely on the polytrack at his last start, so he’ll go back to the turf, and if he races well at Taupo he’ll go to the Hawke’s Bay Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m) 15 days later,” Marsh said.

“Hoard the Bourbon will race in the maiden three-year-old 1300m at Taupo, and if he goes well then he’ll go to the Hawke’s Bay Guineas as well.”

Fonsalette, who finished fourth in the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) last season, ran third at her first three-year-old start on September 4 and Marsh expects her to improve.

“She needed the run the other day and has bounced out of that really well,” Marsh said.

Another potential 1000 Guineas contender is Barbarina, who finished second on debut behind Funny Girl in a 970m maiden at Cambridge. She is likely to be seen next in a maiden three-year-old race over 1200m at Rotorua on September 22.

“If we can sneak her down to Riccarton we will, but she’s a very good filly and we’ll take each race as it comes.”

Marsh expects to take four horses along with Fonsalette to Hastings on Saturday: Vernanme for the open 1600m, Tightlign in the Rating 74 1400m race, Listed Wairarapa Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) winner Tabata in the Rating 74 1200m, and Clique in a Rating 65 event.

“Tabata is a black-type winner and she should have some good opportunities this spring. It would be great if we could get her to the Couplands Mile (Gr.2, 1600m).

“Vernanme has no set targets but he should go well and there should be some nice second-tier races around for him.”

Before then, Marsh has six likely runners at Wednesday’s meeting on the Cambridge Synthetic track. Lil El Gee Dee makes her debut in a 970m maiden, Mercurial and Shakeout contest a three-year-old maiden 970m event, and Darci Palmer, Acting Out, and Fiscal Fun are in the Rating 65 970m sprint.

Lil El Gee Dee won a trial last month and will benefit from the ace draw but Marsh said her task was a bit tougher given she is facing older mares.

Mercurial and Shakeout were set to contest different races but with the maiden 970m for three-year-olds and up being canned they are in the same race. Marsh said both were nice horses but Mercurial’s ace barrier draw should help him.

Though Darci Palmer has been extremely consistent, Marsh said he felt Fiscal Fun was probably the best chance of his three runners in the Rating 65 event. 

Spring Tide coming into Hastings

Spring Tide’s quick rise through the ranks in winter has persuaded Foxton trainer Chrissy Bambry to take an unscheduled crack at Group One company this weekend.

The five-year-old has been in great form, winning three of his last four starts, including a victory by five and a half lengths in an open handicap at Wanganui on September 4.

It was enough for Bambry to put in a late nomination for the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on Saturday.

Spring Tide’s form has seen his rating rocket from 77 to 93 and it’s this rating which has in part convinced Bambry to aim high.

“Originally we were going to aim at the Gr.3 Red Badge Sprint (1400m) on the last day at Hastings and then the Couplands Mile (Gr.2, 1600m), but with his current rating he’ll nearly be topweight in any open handicap he goes to,” she said.

“So while he’s well and fit he’s worth a crack at the Group One.”

Spring Tide has won all of his races on soft or heavy going but Bambry said he’ll be competitive on dead footing as well.

“He won at Hastings on a slow 9 and I think he’s best on dead to soft footing,” Bambry said.

Sarah Macnab, who has been aboard for all three of Spring Tide’s 2021 winter victories, will retain the ride for the Tarzino.

Bambry is likely to be double-handed in the Tarzino as she has also nominated her hardy galloper Deerfield, who finished fifth in the race last year behind Callsign Mav.

“I was happy with his run at Wanganui. COVID messed up his plans and he probably should have had a trial and another race, so he’s probably two weeks behind where we’d like him to be fitness-wise,” Bambry said.

“He can be quite a cunning old bugger in training but he seems to know when it’s raceday and should bring his A-game, though he may need the run.”

Bambry also has a solid chance in the day’s other feature, the Gr.3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1200m), with her consistent filly Bellacontte.

Imperatriz is likely to start a short-priced favourite in the Gold Trail Stakes following her Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) victory but Bellacontte also comes into the race with stakes-winning form, having taken out the Listed O’Leary Fillies Stakes (1200m) at Wanganui on September 4.

However, Bambry said Bellacontte’s main aim for spring will be the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm 49th New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 13.

“She’s definitely not screwed down for the race on Saturday because it’s not her main target, but I’d expect her to be there or thereabouts,” she said.

Bambry’s other Hastings runner will be Lord Esperanza, who will contest the Rating 65 1600m contest after winning his maiden at Hawera on September 3. 

“He’s trained on well but it’s hard to win two in a row, especially jumping up a grade,” she said. “If he ran in the top half of the field I’d be happy.” 

Domestic targets for Rogerson stars

The chances of high-class galloper Mascarpone venturing across the Tasman this spring are looking highly unlikely, however, Group One performed stablemate Beauden remains an outside hope of making it to Melbourne, where he holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) with an allotted weight of 53.5kg.

After lumping 63.5kgs to finish fifth in an open handicap at Te Aroha last week, Beauden will head back to his happy hunting ground at Awapuni for his next assignment, the Gr.3 Metric Mile (1600m) on Saturday week. 

The rich chestnut has 12 career victories to his credit, with eight of those coming at Awapuni.

“I don’t know what it is about Awapuni he loves so much,” said Graeme Rogerson, who trains in partnership with his wife Debbie.

“He worked sensational this morning over 1000m on the grass and is going really good.

“The biggest thing with him is that at Te Aroha he had 63.5kgs first up over a mile, so it was a big weight to carry. 

“I’ll talk with Joan (Egan, owner) where he goes after Awapuni. He is in the Livamol (Gr.1, 2040m) so we’ll leave our options open.

“If he goes to Aussie he will go to the Moonee Valley Cup (Gr.2, 2500m) and then the Melbourne Cup.”

Last start Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) winner Mascarpone will be staying local and be aimed at targets that are on anti-clockwise racecourses. 

“He is definitely not going to Australia. He will go to Te Rapa on October 1 for an Open Handicap (over 1200m) and then he will run at Rotorua in the Sweynesse Stakes (Gr.3, 1215m) and then the Legacy Lodge Sprint (Listed, 1200m) which is also at Te Rapa. 

“Then I will get him ready for the Telegraph (Gr.1, 1200m) and if all goes well we might get him ready for Australia in the Autumn.

“He has his funny ways, he treadmills and aqua-walks and swims every day.”

Team Rogerson will be represented in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) on Saturday by five-win galloper More Wonder, who resumed with a solid seventh in the Foxbridge Plate behind his stablemate.

“He ran super in the Foxbridge Plate. He drew the outside alley and got caught off the track. He wasn’t far away. If he gets a good alley and a nice run he will be competitive on Saturday,” Rogerson said. 

“He will run in the Tarzino and then the Windsor Park Plate (Gr.1, 1600m). 1400m is better than 1200m for him.”

Rogerson is also looking forward to seeing the progression of exciting juvenile Gibraltar Rising, a scopey son of Almanzor who finished third in the first two-year-old race of the season at Wanganui on September 4, despite cornering awkwardly and coming widest in the straight. 

“He is a real good horse. I gave him two weeks out, he will come back on Monday. I have a few Almanzors and I think he could be the next Savabeel (champion sire),” Rogerson said. 

“He will go to Christchurch for the two-year-old race (Listed Welcome Stakes, 1000m). He is not for sale at the moment, but there has been plenty of interest. 

“I think he is a Classic horse. He will probably race in blinkers next start.” 
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