Trainer Ben Foote was pleased to see his speedy mare Babylon Berlin show her usual zip when winning an 850m trial at Te Rapa on Monday.
A last start winner of the Group 3 Concorde Handicap (1200m) at Ellerslie last month, Babylon Berlin is likely to contest the Network Visuals Handicap (1200m), an open sprint at Ellerslie this weekend, which would serve as preparation for the Group 3 Haunui Farm King’s Plate (1200m) back at Ellerslie on March 5.
“I wouldn’t usually trial on the Monday and line up on the Saturday but she seems to thrive on that when I’ve done it,” Foote said.
“Also, it’s a good stake and she’s got to have a run before the King’s Plate, and she’s a pretty good doing horse.”
Foote wasn’t perturbed that Babylon Berlin was slow to get into stride in her trial on Monday before taking her customary on-speed role.
“She actually misses the kick more than she gets it, to be honest,” he said. “But she gets up to speed very quickly once she does jump.”
Foote said Babylon Berlin, who as clear top-rater has been allocated 62kg for Saturday’s race, seemed to be improving as she matured and was able to battle to the line more strongly than she did in her early races.
A multiple Group Three winner and Group One placed, Babylon Berlin has won six of her 14 career starts with a further seven placings.
Meanwhile, the Cambridge horseman is hoping to pick up some black type with his filly Miss Madison, who contests the Listed FastTrack Insurance Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth on Friday.
“She’s a lovely filly and has been working really well,” Foote said.
“She may be better over 1400m to a mile, but there’s black type available and given that it’s 1800m she has a chance of getting the trip.”
Foote was set to start Ayreon, Louisiana Man, Upland Court, and Ruach at Tauranga on Wednesday, but they have all drawn poorly so he has decided to enter them at New Plymouth instead in the hope they get better barriers.
“Louisiana Man had some issues with his throat and had a couple of surgeries but he doesn’t seem to have any problems with his breathing. He has won a couple of trials and I think he’s quite a nice horse,” Foote said of the unraced three-year-old.
“Ruach, who is Travelling Light’s half-brother, has also been doing well. He’s a really progressive horse and he could be up to something like the Manawatu Classic (Group 3, 2000m) in autumn.”
Foote has also recently had The Mayor and Order Again return to his stable after they performed well in Australia, but he’s unsure how much longer they are likely to race.
He said the pair had been brought back to New Zealand primarily with retirement in mind but the owners thought it was worth trying them on the track first to see how they were going.
The Mayor had his first start back in New Zealand in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) last Saturday, finishing last of 11, while Order Again has had one trial for an unplaced effort.
“There’s a chance The Mayor could go to Matamata for the Kaimai Stakes (Listed, 2000m) on February 26, but otherwise retirement is right in front of him. He’d been working well leading up to Saturday but he wasn’t up to it on the day,” Foote said.
“With Order Again, I was pretty happy with him but his trial was a bit disappointing so he’ll be trialling again before he goes to the races.”