Dream start beckons new alliance at Ellerslie

Mahrajaan winning the Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton on Saturday. Photo: Race Images South

Shaune Ritchie is bullish about kicking off a new association on a top note at Ellerslie on Saturday.

The Cambridge horseman, who trains in partnership with Colm Murray, is looking forward to the debut chances of the Brendan and Jo Lindsay-bred and raced Tycoon Prince in the Barfoot & Thompson 2YO (1100m).

“He’s got a beautiful action with natural pace and he’s the first horse we’ve had for Cambridge Stud since Sir Patrick Hogan,” Ritchie said.

“They’ve given us a lovely horse and he looks like he’s got the pace to go with it, so it would be nice if we can start off successfully.”

The son of Written Tycoon has shaped promisingly at the trials with a 950m heat victory on his home synthetic track in his latest outing under race day rider Warren Kennedy.

“Harnessing his speed is the key and Warren got him to relax from the outside gate and cruised across in his own time,” Ritchie said.

“With jockeys like Warren, you don’t have to give them instructions, especially when they’ve had a couple of rides on the horse at the trials.

“He didn’t like the wet ground the first time at the trials and got a bit tired late and there was significant improvement on the polytrack.

“It looks like we’ve picked the right race for him and he’s got the right turn of foot. It’s up to Warren to rate him and I’m sure he’ll be hard to hold out.”

A good track will also suit Tycoon Prince’s stablemate Mahrajaan, who continues his Group 2 Auckland Cup (3200m) preparation in the Group 2 Avondale Cup (2400m).

“We were forced to run him the other day in the wet ground and Michael (McNab) said he was jumping the puddles down the back straight,” Ritchie said.

“He’s a dead set dry tracker and he probably needs all of two miles. I would expect him to run much better, but he may not be too threatening until he gets to his right trip in the Auckland Cup.”

Ritchie is also looking for improvement from Regazzo in the Auckland Co-Op Taxis Handicap (2100m), in which stablemate Reinstatement is third on the ballot.

“Regazzo hasn’t had a lot of luck, he’s been a bit stiff lately and I think he can go better,” he said.

“We went forward with him (at Te Rapa) and it was a disaster. He had to work for three quarters of the race and was found wanting late.

“Although his form reads poorly, I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks and from a betting point of view, if you’re in trouble going into the last race then you could probably find worse.”

Ritchie is also expecting his Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) hope Nepheti to be hard to head off in the K9 Petfoods Handicap (1600m) at Hastings on Sunday.

She was an impressive course and distance winner two runs back before a midfield finish in the Listed Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth.

“It was a forgive run, she hadn’t raced for five weeks. We had planned to go to Wellington, but the track was wet there and it was abandoned anyway so luckily we didn’t make the trip down there,” Ritchie said.

“At Taranaki, she was just ready for the 1800m but when the wet ground kicked in it found her out.

“I think she is a high-class filly and she’s back to a field she should be better than so I would be very surprised if she isn’t the horse to beat.

“She has to get her Oaks program back on track and to win this nicely would give us confidence to press on to either the Sunline (Group 3, 2100m) or the Lowland (Group 2, 2100m).”

Horse racing news

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments