Andrew Carston has his two mares in peak condition for what he has revealed is their target race – Saturday’s Group 3 Valachi Downs South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton.
The Christchurch trainer will produce Ticket To Ride and Monrecour in the set-weights and penalties fillies and mares feature, confident he has both in the right condition to be winning chances. “Both went really well last start and have progressed well out of the race so we’re right on track,” Carston said. “This is the target race for both of them and I don’t think I could have either any better.”
Seven-year-old mare Ticket To Ride finished second to Nowhere Man at Ashburton last start, with Monrecour just a nose further back in third. A winner of nine of her 52 starts including the Group 3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton last spring, Ticket To Ride meets her stablemate 4.5kg better off on Saturday but Carston would prefer to see some easing in the track for Saturday.
She would have carried 56kg on Saturday but a New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) rule change in response to the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in weights raised 2kg to protect jockey health. “It’s a Dead4 at the moment and there is rain in the forecast so if that arrives she’d be better off,” he said. “I am disappointed she carries 58kg though. She’s only a slight mare and she’s been set for this for months and then two days ago we were told she’d be carrying 2kg more. It’s disappointing but it is what it is so we’ve got to run with it. “She’s really well but it’s just a concern – the firm track and extra weight. She’s up to the class, no doubt about that and I can’t fault her condition.”
Carston was also delighted with recent stable recruit Monrecour, who transferred from Marton trainer Fraser Auret last month. “We’ve just changed everything with her, tipped her regime upside down. She’s done a lot of swimming and jumping over the pony fences in the middle of the track and not a lot of fast work. “She’s taken a huge amount of benefit out of that run. It was the perfect leadup to Saturday’s feature. She seems a happy and bright mare.”
Monrecour is a $9.50 sixth favourite for the race for stable apprentice Kozzi Asano ahead of Ticket To Ride at $10 for rider Kylie Williams behind favourite Monza Circuito at $5.
Carston has nine runners entered for Riccarton, suggesting Sanctify and Shock Prospect were the pick of his undercard entries. Asano has eight rides on the card as he chases the premiership, already notching 72 wins to be just five wins behind frontrunner Lisa Allpress. It has yet to be seen how a New Zealand Thoroughbred Rracing directive that no jockeys can travel inter-island for rides at present will affect his title chances. “It’s not ideal in a premiership race for anyone,” Carston said. “It’s not going to help him but it’s not going to help Lisa or Sam (Collett) either.”