Fresh from a great start to 2022, Shaun and Emma Clotworthy could have up to three runners seeking big prizes on Karaka Million night at Ellerslie.
The Clotworthys, who train on the outskirts of Auckland at Byerley Park, have already scored two victories at Ellerslie this year, with Bella Luce’s win in a three-year-old 1200m event on January 9 adding to that of Malt Time in a Rating 65 event on New Year’s Day.
Both could be contenders at Ellerslie on January 22, along with Seven Twenty, who finished sixth last Sunday behind Bella Luce.
Shaun Clotworthy said he hoped to run Malt Time in the Group 2 Westbury Classic (1400m) for fillies and mares, Bella Luce in the Group 3 Almanzor Trophy (1200m), and Seven Twenty in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
Malt Time couldn’t have been more impressive on New Year’s Day, sweeping around the field after settling well back to score a decisive two-length victory.
It was her second win and followed a nice effort for sixth behind Sassy Merlot at Te Rapa on December 11.
“She’s always shown quite a bit of ability but has been a bit wayward at times going right-handed,” Clotworthy said.
“But she’s in a good spot at the moment and it’s worth a go for black type next week.”
Bella Luce showed plenty of grit in her victory, outgunning the front-running Magneto in the final 100m after settling handy. It was her second win in her last three starts, and her only failure in those runs came on an unsuitable slow track at Tauranga on November 13.
“It came after a bit of a freshen-up and there should be a bit of improvement in her,” Clotworthy said.
“We’ve always rated her quite well and she deserves to have a crack at the Almanzor. We’re just hoping she gets a good track.”
Seven Twenty contested the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) last year, finishing ninth, but then headed to Australia after OTI Racing bought a half-share. She spent the spring with Sydney trainer Matthew Smith, winning once from three starts, before heading back to the Clotworthys last month with the Karaka Million 3YO Classic in mind.
She is right on the edge of getting a run in the 18-horse field, being among those not seen as doubtful starters.
Clotworthy said he was happy enough with the run over 1200m on January 9.
“She hit the line well enough and should be better over 1600m,” he said.
“On The Bubbles is going to be very difficult to beat but it’s a pretty even line-up outside him and it’s worth a crack for a million dollar race.”
Meanwhile, Clotworthy said Mr Jay Eight has been sent to the paddock for a brief spell after a strong effort to finish third to Dark Destroyer and Field Of Gold in the Group 2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) on New Year’s Day.
Mr Jay Eight has raced just three times this season, winning his debut at Pukekohe on November 11 and then finishing third in a Rating 65 event at the same track on December 20 prior to his Ellerslie effort, but he’s heading to the paddock so he will be at his peak for the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham on March 19.
“He’ll probably have a let-up of about three weeks and we’ll then look to target the Levin Classic,” Clotworthy said.
“He’s quite an immature horse still so we thought we’d err on the cautious side and have him at his peak in March.”