New Zealand news briefs

Solidify notches fifth career win

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Solidify notched up his fifth career victory on Saturday when taking out the New World Otaki Handicap (2100m) for trainers Graeme and Debbie Rogerson.

The three-year-old son of Redwood was eased back early to sit midfield by jockey Johnathan Riddell, who bided his time before pressing the go button at the 600m mark, launching his charge three-wide to loop the field. Solidify continued his momentum down the straight to score a 1-1/2 length victory over Phats, with a further half neck back to Princess Elly in third.

Solidify was building into a return to the winner’s stall, having placed in his four runs since the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March, including a runner-up effort behind subsequent Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) placegetter Moonlight Magic in the Gr.3 Championship Stakes (2100m).

“He’s getting better, he raced well and he’s starting to become a stayer,” Graeme Rogerson said.

“He hasn’t been straightforward, he can race a bit fierce, and he is learning. He had no luck in the Derby, he got caught out wide and everything went wrong. It might have been a bit soon for him too. His runs since then have all been good. We have persevered with him to make him into a staying horse.”

Rogerson is undecided on Solidify’s next step, with the Hamilton horseman weighing up between a few winter assignments or a freshen-up.

“I haven’t decided where we will head, we will just play it by ear. He will tell us,” he said.

“He might run at Tauranga in the Open race and we might look at the Taumarunui Gold Cup. If we decided to put him out now, I decided to put in a nomination for the Winter Cup (Gr.3, 1600m).”

Looking ahead to racing at Cambridge’s synthetic meeting on Wednesday, Rogerson is looking forward to lining up a quartet of juveniles in the Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series 1300, including three by his resident sire Ferrando – Skymax, Chance Encounter and Karyon.

“They (Ferrandos) are not really two-year-olds,” Rogerson said. “There are a few out spelling that look like they are going to be really good.

“Skymax is not really a two-year-old, but we have put the blinkers on and he will run a race. Chance Encounter can gallop a bit and they are a chance, and Karyon has got ability, but I think they are a staying horse in the making.”

Vancouver filly Orange River will round out the stable’s quartet in the race.

“Orange River really wants racing,” Rogerson said.

Also on the Cambridge card, Mr Universe will be vying to make it back-to-back wins on the polytrack in the Cambridge Equine Hospital 1300, where he will be joined by stablemate Drum Major.

“Mr Universe likes the synthetic,” Rogerson said. “He is a handy old horse and if he puts his best foot forward, he is always a chance.”

Rogerson is also looking forward to watching All The Rage and Villon compete in the Pryde’s Easifeed 2000, and Hutson and Jivetalkin in the Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series 1550.

“Hutson is a chance in race two, he was unlucky the other day, and Jivetalkin has got to lean to be a racehorses. Villon and All The Rage are horses getting ready to run over ground.”

Stable stars return to Hamilton barn

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Hamilton trainers Graeme and Debbie Rogerson have enjoyed welcoming back a number of their stable stars this week ahead of their spring preparations.

Reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year Sharp ‘N’ Smart was part of that contingent, and his trainers are hoping he can return to the form that led him to snaring New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s top honour.

“The good horses have all come back in this week, including Sharp ‘N’ Smart,” Graeme Rogerson said.

“He had a viral complaint, and he didn’t quite run up to his best last prep, but he looks magnificent, he has grown into a real horse.”

The Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) was Sharp ‘N’ Smart’s primary objective this season prior to his viral infection, and Rogerson is hoping they can get their multiple Group One winner to Australasia’s most iconic staying race this year, electing to bypass the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival.

“We will aim for the Caulfield (Gr.1, 2400m) and Melbourne Cups,” Rogerson said.

“He probably won’t head to Hastings, but we will just play it by ear. He will have a run here in a sprint and then go off to Australia probably.

“If he finds his best form, he is a very good horse. He had four months out and has come back in looking beautiful.”

While Hastings isn’t on the cards for Sharp ‘N’ Smart, it is certainly in the picture for Group Two performer Just As Sharp.

“Just As Sharp will run in the Foxbridge Plate (Gr.2, 1200m) and the Tarzino (Gr.1, 1400m) if he isn’t sold. We will just see what happens,” Rogerson said.

A couple of the stable’s younger brigade also have Rogerson excited about the new season.

“Domain Ace has come back looking enormous, he is going to be running in the Northland Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.3, 1200m),” he said.

“I like a Tarzino filly called Tarzador, who won a trial, and we have got a lot of young untired horses.”

Atchamah out to defend premiership title

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Reigning Champion South Island Apprentice Jockey Yogesh Atchamah looks to have a fight on his hands to retain his title this season.

The Christchurch-based rider brought up his 20th win for the season aboard Lippy for his employer Andrew Carston at Phar Lap Raceway on Sunday, doubling his previous season’s tally.

“I was just listening to Andrew’s instructions,” Atchamah said. “He told me to ride him patient and not to rush when the gates open. He said there was a lot of pace in the race, so just to sit quiet and wait until the 400m and ride for luck.”

While he has far exceeded his deeds from last season, the victory has brought him to level terms with fellow Riccarton apprentice Donovan Cooper, and with less than two months to go in the season, their rivalry is just starting to heat up. However, Atchamah said he isn’t getting caught up in the premiership race.

“I am really pleased with the way I am going at the moment. I just want to improve a bit more,” he said.

“I don’t want to put myself under too much pressure. If I get it, I get it, and I will be very happy.”

Atchamah is hoping to improve his win tally at Riccarton’s synthetic meeting on Wednesday prior to carrying out his suspension from Thursday.

“I have got good rides on Wednesday including Peecee Pussycat, I am really looking forward to riding him,” he said.

Looking to the rest of the season, Atchamah said his primary aim was to out ride his three-kilogram claim and to continue to improve his riding skillset.

“I just want to out ride my claim before the season ends. I will be very happy if I make it,” he said.

“I just want to improve myself. I have got a lot of help from my riding master Jason (Laking).”

While firmly focussed on the current season, Atchamah is also looking forward to reuniting with some of his favourite horses in the new term.

“I really like a horse I was riding for Kelvin Tyler called Go Lotte. This horse gave me a very good feeling,” he said.

“I am also looking forward to Mogul. He is spelling at the moment, but I am looking forward to him coming back.”

Testing his talent in the North Island is also something Atchamah would like to do in the future.

“If I get my chance, I would like to ride up north too, but I want to build myself up here for the moment,” he said.

In-form stable on target for another century

By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

A flurry of winners last month has put Stephen Marsh in a strong position to hit the century mark for the third season on the bounce.

His stable is currently sitting in second spot on the National Trainers’ Premiership with 88 successes, having posted previous tallies of 100 and 104.

While attaining the three figures isn’t Marsh’s top priority, it has now come more into focus.

“The 100 wins wasn’t exactly a goal, it is a good feeling though to get there and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to get it again,” Marsh said.

Results through May have made another century a more realistic achievement.

“I thought a month ago that we weren’t going to be a chance of getting there, but we got 13 wins in May which doesn’t usually happen,” Marsh said.

“We’re only 12 wins off it now, so we’re a realistic chance of getting there again.

“It’s really nice to reach the century, it’s not our main focus and when we started the season the aim was to win better races and more prizemoney.”

Marsh’s operation has topped $5 million in earnings and into double figures for Group or Listed victories.

“The stable has had 10 Group or Listed winners and that’s been our best, so at some stage it would be nice to beat that,” he said.

Marsh will have a big team in action at Wednesday’s meeting on the synthetic track at Cambridge including multiple contenders in the Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1550m).

Arrowette, Lovaci and Almaceta are an in-form trio who give the stable a quality hand.

“They are all racing very well and have drawn decent enough gates, so everything looks good about them,” Marsh said.

“They are very hard to split, they’re well-placed and should all be hard to beat.

“It really depends on the runs they get, Arrowette has been going super on the synthetic and the other two girls are bit unknown on it.”

Zoustar mare Arrowette has placed in all three runs on the all-weather course, including a runner-up finish at her most recent outing.

Lovaci was a last-start winner at Taupo while Almaceta was a late-closing fifth when resuming at Te Rapa.

“It’s one of those days when we’ve got a good, even spread of horses and I like the four in Rating 65 over 2000m, they are all going well,” Marsh said.

The quartet in the Pryde’s Easifeed Handicap is headed by last-start course and distance winner Hoard The Bourbon with ample back-up from The Green Keeper, Pow Tong and Eve’s Song.

Marsh is also expecting a bold showing from a daughter of Per Incanto in the Cambridge Equine Hospital Handicap (1300m).

“Hasstobefast is back on the synthetic with (Michael) McNab on and the side winkers, so we’ve got a few good all-round chances,” he said.

A three-time winner, the five-year-old ran fifth in the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) before a break and will have improved with her resuming run for fifth.