The opening day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival has special meaning for Matamata couple Simon and Katrina Alexander, and even more so for the 2021 renewal.
Tarzino Stakes day traditionally doubles as Daffodil Day in a fund-raising event for the Cancer Society, which for the Alexanders includes sponsoring a race in memory of their son Jackson, known better by the nickname Jooky, who succumbed to melanoma at age 22 in mid-June 2019.
Later that year his parents and a group of family and friends gathered at Hastings racecourse on Daffodil Day to witness the inaugural running of the Remember ‘Jooky’ Mile. This year’s edition, in the form of a special conditions MAAT race at 1200m, includes a starter from the Alexander stable, highly rated four-year-old Alchemia.
“Yes it would mean a lot to win our race,” Katrina Alexander said. “We had hoped to have the usual 30 to 40 people join us but with level 2 lockdown conditions in place we’ve had to put a lid on things.
“We’re thankful that we can still stage the race with a smaller group on hand and we have a plan in place to keep the sponsorship going.”
Alchemia rates well in pre-race calculations, having finished third on the corresponding day 12 months ago as a one-start maiden in the Listed El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m).
She was then sidelined with fetlock chips and didn’t reappear until July, going down by half a length over the same 1200m as Saturday’s race.
“It would have been preferable to draw better (than gate 15), but she’s very bright, so hopefully she can make her own luck and give herself a chance,” Alexander said.
The stable’s second runner on the Hastings card also makes a lot of appeal. Farrenc goes into the Group 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) off the back of a third placing to Imperatriz and I Wish I Win in the Group 3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Te Rapa.
“Those are two smart horses that beat her and I really liked the way she was drawing them in over the final stages, especially when they weren’t stopping,” Alexander said.
“Her sectionals were right up there and the good thing is we haven’t really tightened the screws yet.
“She’s already looking like she would prefer 1400 metres, but as with Alchemia, any more rain down in the Bay would help her, that would make it more of a test.”
Farrenc holds an entry for the Group 1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Park in November, while classic plans are also on the table for stablemate Te Toki with a nomination for the Group 1 El Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).
The well-touted son of VRC Derby winner Tarzino left a huge impression with a runaway debut win over 1300m at Taupo last week and is scheduled to line up on the second day of the Hawke’s Bay carnival on October 2.
What has already been decided is that Te Toki will step up to 1400m for his second start, but whether that will be in the Group 2 Dundeel At Arrowfield Hawke’s Bay Guineas or in Rating 65 grade has yet to be ascertained.
“Whether it’s the bigger goal or the lesser goal is something we’re still working through,” Alexander said.
“We are setting him for the middle day, but we’ll assess things closer to the time with the intention of doing what’s best for the horse.”
Like Alchemia and Farrenc, the Alexanders are part-owners in Te Toki and are comfortable with the ownership group’s decision to ignore for the meantime the immense interest in the bay gelding.
“He has still to make the qualification cut for Hong Kong and he’s not the sort of horse we’re prepared to give away,” Alexander said.
“He’s very exciting and we’ve rated him for a long time, but what he’s done to this point is over and above what we expected given the type of horse he is.
“Everything about him says he’s going to be even better with more time.”