Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott will have horses at opposite ends of the form scale when they stage a two-pronged attack on the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.
The Matamata trainers will be represented in the weight-for-age event by their Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) contender Charles Road and former Hong Kong galloper Giovanni Canaletto.
In his first start since his seventh in the Melbourne Cup, Charles Road was an eye-catching fourth behind the big improver True Enough over 1600m at Pukekohe, while Giovanni Canaletto has failed to do better than fourth of eight in three starts since coming to New Zealand and tailed the field home in his latest appearance.
Charles Road had a trial going into his fresh-up run at Pukekohe and the stable was expecting a bold showing.
“He didn’t surprise me with how well he went,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’s run seventh in a Melbourne Cup and not many can do that. He’s a good horse and he has been going really well.
“He had a nice quiet trial at Cambridge going into it and he’s going to be better suited over the 2000m this time.”
A winner of six races, including Randwick’s Group 2 Chairmans Handicap (2600m) and Ellerslie’s Group 3 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m), Charles Road was also third in last year’s Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) and fifth in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m), for which he is again nominated.
“We’ll get through this race first before confirming his next start,” O’Sullivan said.
Charles Road will be reunited next weekend with Craig Grylls, who was his regular rider at the beginning of his career. Grylls had six rides on the son of Myboycharlie for two wins.
Giovanni Canaletto is also nominated for the Auckland Cup, but he needs to show a big improvement on his three New Zealand starts, the latest being the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day when last.
“He has been disappointing, but we’ve changed a few things with him,” O’Sullivan said.
“We gave him a trial a couple of weeks ago and put blinkers on him. He had not been letting go in his races.
“It’ll be his first start past a mile for us and should suit him better. He’s got to show something to press on for the Auckland Cup.”
A seven-year-old son of Galileo, Giovanni Canaletto began his career in Ireland where he was a maiden winner over 1600m at Leopardstown in October 2014 and was a Group Three runner-up and third in the Group 1 Irish Derby (2400m). He also finished fourth in the Gr.1 English Derby (2400m).
Though he has won only the one race, he went on to show some good form in Hong Kong, including a third to Werther in the 2016 Hong Kong Derby (2000m), and had been off the scene for two and a half years when he had his first start for O’Sullivan and Scott at Tauranga when fourth to stablemate Sleeping Beauty.
Wexford Stables also has Andoyas entered for the Auckland Cup and he will take a further step toward the feature with a start in the Group 2 Avondale Cup ( 2400m) later this month.
Another import from Hong Kong, Andoyas won over 1600m at Avondale in September and again at Ellerslie over 2200m three months later, but finished last in the Group 3 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“We got it wrong the way he was ridden last start and next time he will be ridden more positively,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’s still in the Auckland Cup and we’re expecting him to go well in the Avondale Cup.”