Cambridge jockey Troy Harris has a strong book of rides on the seven-race card at Ruakaka on Saturday and rates Group Two winner Wyndspelle as his best of the day.
The Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs-trained runner has had a solid classic season and is being set for the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.
“It’s my first ride on the horse,” Harris said. “It’s his first run back in since his run in the New Zealand Derby so I’m pretty excited to ride him.
“Donna and Chris reckon he’s coming up well and they are pretty good judges. I think he is the horse to beat in the race off his previous form.”
He will also ride Chasing Great in the last for the local training partnership, a last-start winner over a mile.
“He’s a pretty tough horse, eventually he’s going to get over a further trip but the mile shouldn’t worry him, I think he’ll be right in it.”
Earlier in the day Harris will be aboard the Stephen Marsh-trained Mediterranean Star in the third race and the Roger James-trained Crux in the fourth.
He thinks debut runner Mediterranean Star will benefit from a better track after his placing on a heavy track at the Te Teko trials earlier this month.
“His trials to date have all been good,” he said. “He needed that trial at Te Teko, the track was pretty heavy so it didn’t really suit him, so going up to Ruakaka should benefit him.
“Drawing 12 he is probably a bit vulnerable first up, but if he can get a nice trip I can see him winning the race.”
His only other ride on the day is Crux. The Buffalo Man gelding has won his only start to date and is another horse who would benefit from a firmer track according to Harris.
“I’ve ridden him at both of his trials this time in,” he said. “They have both been on pretty heavy tracks.
“He won on a dead track at Matamata so that’s why Roger has opted to take him up to Ruakaka to find a better track. Hopefully, we don’t get the rain that we’re supposed to get.”
Meanwhile, Harris said he is really enjoying his riding and is looking forward to continuing his form into next season.
“It’s been really good. I have been working hard at my weight and hopefully I can keep rolling it into the start of next season.
“I am getting a lot of support from trainers, so hopefully that continues into next season.
“I want to ride 60 winners (next season) at this stage, I reckon it’s a doable task for me.”
Frost happy to wait with in-form Redefine
Otaki trainer Rachael Frost has been looking far and wide for a suitable race for Redefine, but without any joy.
“I was going to send him to Oamaru on Sunday, but the track looks like it will be no better than New Plymouth,” said Frost, who bred and races the Captain Rio gelding.
“I might look at the National meeting at Riccarton, but if it’s really wet then I’ll just wait for Hawke’s Bay.”
Redefine has won four of his 11 starts, including his last three in succession at Wanganui, Otaki and Hawke’s Bay.
End of road for Eric The Viking
Versatile performer Eric The Viking has been retired.
A smart flat performer before winning the Grand National, Koral and Wellington Steeplechases, time has been called on the rising 12-year-old after two outings this winter.
“He was a little bit sore after his run for fourth at Trentham so we thought it was the right time to pull the pin,” part-owner and trainer Aaron Bidlake said.
“The special thing about him was that he was able to win an Opunake Cup over 1400m and then steeplechases over 5500m – very few horses can do that.
“He raced for eight seasons as well and that showed how durable he was.”
Kiwi-bred closing in on return
New Zealand-bred filly I Am A Star, winner of the Group 1 Myer Classic last spring, will be back in action next month.
The rising four-year-old will return in either the Group 3 Aurie’s Star on August 12 or the Listed Regal Roller Stakes at Caulfield a week later.
Trainer Shane Nichols has yet to settle on the main spring targets for I Am A Star, who hasn’t raced since she finished third in the Group 1 Ubet Classic at Morphettville.
“It’s the best she’s ever looked after a spell,” Nichols said. “There are so many options for a horse like her.”