Chief Sequoyah ready for National challenge

Zeefa Zed
Zeefa Zed grinds out an impressive victory at Riccarton. Photo Credit: Race Images South

While he wasn’t really enjoying the serious drop in temperature that Christchurch was experiencing on Sunday, trainer John Wheeler was still savouring the success of a winning double at Riccarton 24 hours earlier.

Wheeler produced potential jumping star Chief Sequoyah to win the opening hurdle event on the card before late maturing Zed gelding Zeefa Zed made it two for the day with a gritty victory over 1800m.

Wheeler was pleased to see Zeefa Zed back up his last start win on his home track at New Plymouth last month, as he believes the seven-year-old is only now starting to reach his full potential.

“He is a typical Zed as he probably hasn’t really filled out yet and is only starting to get somewhere near full maturity,” he said.

“What he does have is that never-say-die Zed attitude, which was perfect for yesterday, as he really gutsed it out over the last 200m to get that win.

“He has pulled up well and will most likely line up in an open handicap on the last day (of the Grand National Festival of Racing, 14 August), where he will be near the minimum of the handicap and well placed to run another good race.

“At this stage his future is still on the flat, but I can see him switching to jumping later on.

“He has done a fair bit of prep work over fences and he looks like a natural, so he will definitely go jumping at some stage.”

Wheeler was also delighted with the condition of promising hurdler Chief Sequoyah who provided the perfect dress rehearsal for Wednesday’s Hospitality New Zealand Canterbury Grand National Hurdles (4200m) with a comprehensive win in the Avon City Ford Sydenham Hurdles (3100m) on Saturday.

“He (Chief Sequoyah) has pulled up really well and is enjoying it out in his paddock, although he has an extra rug on as it is so cold down here today,” Wheeler said.

“He is still at the creating stage and has to learn to switch off in his races, but he was very safe yesterday and had a really good rhythm during the run.

“He will go to the National on Wednesday and then probably to the Great Northern Hurdle (4190m) at Ellerslie next month, before we tip him out for a spell.”

Wheeler, who has enjoyed phenomenal success in the jumping game both here and in Australia, believes Chief Sequoyah will be perfectly suited to some of the major events across the Tasman next season.

“He will definitely be in Australia next year as he will make a tremendous chaser over those smaller steeplechase fences they have there,” he said.

“He is pretty adept on better going, which will suit over there and he has good flat speed which you need when they are pinging along on the firmer surfaces.

“With the season of jumping he has had here, I’d like to think he could match up pretty well to what he would face there.”

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