Richard Collett has kept a close eye on racing at Cambridge’s newly opened synthetic track and he will test the surface out himself with a couple of runners at their opening meeting of the season on Wednesday.
The Pukekohe trainer will line-up All Business in the AP Gollan Property Valuers (970m) and he is looking forward to the three-year-old’s debut performance after a couple of pleasing trials, including a runner-up effort over 800m at Cambridge last month.
“He had a jumpout really early on down there in June,” Collett said. “We trialled him at Avondale on the grass, which he won.
“We have waited for this.”
Collett will also contest the Canter For Cancer 1300 with Kate Velour, who will be second-up after finishing sixth on debut at Ruakaka last month.
“She just didn’t get a lot of luck at Ruakaka in her first start. She trialled up quite nicely on the grass at Te Rapa (in May),” Collett said.
“She is a good-actioned filly. She is a half to Consensus. Her work has been good, she can run time, so I don’t think the surface will be much of a worry to her tomorrow. I think she will go a nice race, but she may want more ground after this.”
While he has yet to have a runner on raceday at Cambridge, Collett has been impressed with what he has seen at the track’s handful of race meetings last season.
“I haven’t had a runner on the track, but I have watched a lot of it,” he said.
“I think visually it is a far better product for the punter than watching horses on really wet ground.
“I think it is the future of racing during winter in New Zealand. From what they say, it is a better betting product.
“I trained a lot of winter horses early on in my career and now I focus on summer horses, and that is the sort of horse it suits.”
Turnovers on the Cambridge synthetic have held up well across the first half-dozen meetings, with the average New Zealand turnover per race of NZD$122,049 marginally above the six mid-week turf track meetings conducted in the north through the winter. The average field size of 11.04 has also been pleasing.
Officials also believe the benefit of keeping horses off grass tracks through the winter will be felt through the spring.
Looking ahead to spring and summer racing, Collett is excited about the prospects of Super Strike, Super Pursuit, and No Filter, with stakes targets in each of their sights.
Super Strike continued to impress last season, winning four of his six starts, including the Group 3 Anniversary Handicap (1600m) at Trentham in January.
The Super Easy five-year-old will likely trial at Ruakaka later this month before possibly heading to Canterbury for some spring targets.
“He has just started to do a bit of faster work,” Collett said. “He may head to the trials at the end of the month at Ruakaka where I am looking to run four there.
“He will take two trials, he is carrying a lot of condition this time in. He has been out a while, but we don’t really want to get him to the races until the ground is reasonable under foot, and that might not be until the end of September.
“There is a rough chance I will take him down for the Coupland’s Mile (Group 2, 1600m) in the first week of November if we can fly there and back.
“But we are aiming more towards Christmas, and I can see the horse getting out to 2000m.”
Stablemate Super Pursuit is also in line for some stakes targets.
“He is at the same stage as Super Strike. He will trial at the end of the month at Ruakaka also,” Collett said.
“He is pretty clean-winded as a rule, so he could end up racing at Ellerslie on the 19th of September.
“The biggest focus with him for his owners is that we can win a stakes race before the sales at Karaka because he has got a half-brother going through the sale.”
Collett is also looking towards Christchurch with No Filter who finished runner-up in the Group 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Te Rapa in May.
“He has done about six weeks work and he is coming to hand well,” Collett said. “He is 75-rated so for a lightly raced horse he unfortunately is going to have to race against older, more mature horses, because the way our rating system is not having 85-rating band races.
“I may take him down to Christchurch for the Stewards (Group 3, 1200m) in November.”