Dez begins Winter Cup campaign

Dez will contest the Roaring Lion North Island Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Trentham on Saturday. Photo credit: Race Images

Simon Wilson has some unfinished business in Christchurch that he’d like to take care of in August. Wilson trains talented Zed seven-year-old Dez, who resumes in Saturday’s Roaring Lion North Island Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Trentham.

Dez finished third in the Group 3 Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton last August, closing strongly late after getting held up in traffic in the home straight. Wilson would love to return to Riccarton and win that race this year. “The Winter Cup is the aim. It’s a good race for him and we’d love to win it after going so close last year,” Wilson said. “He’s coming up nicely. He’s working well. He’s been in work for a long time. We’ve given him a lot of slow, steady work and he’s coming along nicely so hopefully he can go as well as he did last winter.”

A winner of five of his 12 starts, Dez won three races last preparation, flanking his Winter Cup placing with wins in the Whyte Handicap (1600m) at Trentham and the Winter Classic (2000m) at Riccarton before finishing a gallant third in the Group 3 Boehringer Ingelheim 1550 at Awapuni. It was a remarkable return from a horse that had spent two years on the sidelines after a serious tendon injury earlier in his career. “He did his tendon after his first season and had to have two years off the scene. I just brought him back up quietly, doing a lot of work on the farm and then he had three months on Sam Lennox’s treadmill. “He’s a raw-boned, long-framed horse that doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight. This is his third preparation so hopefully he’s ready to show his best.”

TAB bookmakers have Dez on the third line of betting at $6.50 for the Challenge Stakes behind Comeback, shooting for his fifth straight win, at $2.30 and last year’s runner-up Art Deco at $2.60. “He’s won both his previous runs fresh and he’s gone well in a jumpout at Woodville but I think he’ll probably need this first race,” Wilson said. “He always tries his hardest but there are some very good horses in the field that have a run or two under their belts and might just have a fitness edge on us.”

Wilson again intends using the Whyte Handicap at Trentham on July 16 as his springboard towards another tilt at the Winter Cup. “We’ll just see how he’s coming up but there’s that mile (Boehringer Ingelheim 1550) again at Awapuni after Riccarton if he’s still going along like we hope.”