Group Two targets on both sides of the Tasman will command Hastings trainer John Bary’s focus on Saturday afternoon.
Bary will saddle Best Seller for the J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m), the two-year-old Wrote filly going around with the Challenge Syndications colours on board, while Bary’s own colours will be seen at Caulfield with Callsign Mav tackling the Peter Young Stakes (1800m) for new trainer Danny O’Brien.
Best Seller has had an interrupted preparation so far, finishing fourth at Matamata on debut before her fourth placing in the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Te Rapa in December.
She had travelled from Hastings to Trentham a week earlier before that meeting was called off and the race rescheduled to Te Rapa and she again had the misfortune to miss this month’s Group 3 Taranaki 2YO Classic (1200m) when that New Plymouth meeting was abandoned after just one race.
“I was really confident for Taranaki. She’d had a jumpout leading into that race and won it really nicely,” Bary said.
“With the big trip over there and back when they were called off, she got a bout of travel sickness so we just had to treat her with kid gloves for 10 days afterwards.
“She’s bounced back nicely and she’s naturally fit. She’s a nice filly with a good brain and I’m looking forward to seeing how she measures up on Saturday.
“She’s gone two good races so far, drawn the outside on both occasions, which has dictated that she’s had to go back, but she’s come home really nicely both times. She made up a lot of ground at Te Rapa last time out.
“We’ve got another wide draw on Saturday which again dictates the way we ride her. She’ll have to go back again but the positive is there’s only eight in the field so we won’t be too far off them.”
Matamata apprentice Joe Kamaruddin takes the ride on Best Seller, who could seal a start in the Group 1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni on April 2 with a bold performance.
“She’s covered more ground than the early settlers with her trips away to Matamata, Trentham, Te Rapa and New Plymouth but going into this one she’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” Bary said.
“I expect her to run well. She’ll get back and hopefully be charging at them late. They said I couldn’t beat Bounding with Recite in this race back in 2013 but history proves that we did and while we’re still a maiden, she’s a very good maiden and we’ll have another go at proving them wrong.
“I’d love to see her finish in the top three or four and that would give us confidence to head to the Group One at Awapuni. Her racing style and her brain lends towards getting her up over 1400m.
“We’d take the five weeks between races and see if she can do the same thing as Recite (who won the Sires’ in 2013 at her next start).”
Bary will step up Wicket Maiden to 1400m with the addition of side winkers earlier in the card at Matamata.
Meanwhile, the Hastings trainer is looking forward to seeing his three-time Group One winner Callsign Mav at Caulfield after such a gritty return effort for second in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield earlier this month.
“He’s a horse who doesn’t have a lot of fanfare in the press. He just goes under the radar and does his thing,” said Bary, who has retained a 10 percent share.
“I said to Danny going into that race that he trials badly and he doesn’t show a lot in trackwork but as they found out on raceday, with the blinkers on he becomes Superman and he nearly pulled it off.
“They are really happy with him going into this one. He galloped well on Tuesday and they’re quietly confident for Saturday. Back to weight-for-age suits him and I like him at Caulfield being a front-running horse. It’s a Group Two for AUD$300,000 so well worth having a crack at.
“He was nominated for the All Star Mile but more realistically after this one, we’ll probably be looking at the Australian Cup (Group 1, 2000m). He’s settled in well there, loving life, and Danny’s doing a fantastic job.”
In other news, Bary has announced the retirement of six-race winner Miss Labasa, who he had been considering for a shot at Saturday’s Group 1 El Cheapo Cars Weight-For-Age Classic (1600m) at Otaki, the mare heading to the broodmare paddock in foal to Waikato Stud stallion Banquo.