Debbie Rogerson is trusting race fitness to give Malambo and Comeback their edge as they prepare to face the stars of Saturday’s Group 2 US Navy Flag Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa. The Hamilton trainer is happy with both Team Rogerson’s runners for the weight-for-age sprint which has attracted five Group 1 winners.
TAB bookmakers have Group 2 winner Te Akau Shark a $2.20 favourite ahead of six-time Group 1 winner Melody Belle at $3.80, last-start Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) winner Helena Baby at $4.60 and last-start Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) placed Endless Drama at $7.
While Malambo and Comeback are alongside Group 1 winners Consensus, Santa Monica, Authentic Paddy and Sentimental Miss as outsiders in the market, Rogerson is happy with both ahead of their biggest tests. “They are hard fit and a lot of horses in that race are having their first run back on a track that will be wet and that will suit both of ours. It makes for an interesting race on Saturday,” said Rogerson, who trains in partnership with her husband Graeme and his granddaughter Bailey.
Track conditions at Te Rapa were posted as a Slow9 on Friday but rain was forecast for Saturday, though Rogerson was confident that wouldn’t have a negative impact on Malambo, who won at Te Rapa on slow going a fortnight ago, beating Comeback and another race rival, Southern Icon. “Malambo has come out of the race really well. I’m more than happy with her,” Rogerson said. “It’s a very good field but she’s drawn well (in barrier four) and I’m expecting a bold run. I’d be over the moon if she could run in the first four. “If she gets a good start and flies, she could be the pacemaker. She loves Te Rapa and that’s an advantage and she is very fit.
Comeback meets Malambo 3.5kg better at the weights in the Foxbridge Plate and had continued to train well, Rogerson said. “He’s good. He’s drawn well. Even though we did claim the other day, he was still giving up a lot of weight and he ran well. He’s come through the race well and he’ll go a good race as well.”
Performances on Saturday will help determine the next step for Malambo and Comeback. Makfi five-year-old gelding Comeback is nominated for the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on August 31 alongside stablemates More Wonder, Contessa Vanessa and Aalaalune, but Duelled five-year-old mare Malambo will be kept to shorter trips. “I’ll just keep her to sprinting. She doesn’t get the 1400 (metres) but I’ll assess everything after Saturday. She’s a lot bigger and stronger and she’s in a good space at the moment,” Rogerson said.
A tilt at the Tarzino Trophy for promising four-year-old More Wonder will become more apparent after a trial at Taupo next Wednesday. “I’m very happy with the horse. He hasn’t got his coat yet but he’s coming right and he’s ticking along nicely for bigger things down the track. He is very forward but we’ll get the trial over first and then discuss what we do with his owners.”