Heavy track specialist thriving ahead of Winter Cup

Rosewood
Heavy track specialist Rosewood. Photo credit: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Heavy track specialist Rosewood will be met by ideal track conditions at Riccarton on Saturday when she lines up in the Group 3 Winning Edge Presentations 122nd Winter Cup (1600m). The six-year-old daughter of Redwood has won all but one of her 10 starts on a heavy surface and trainer Marilyn Paewai is pleased with the Heavy11 rating ahead of the weekend. “I am happy with the ground, it is nice and wet and there is a bit more rain coming by the look of things,” she said. “It was a worry coming here with the weather forecast, everything looked dry on the east side of the South Island for some time. But it has all worked out for us so far.”

Rosewood has been in fine form this winter, winning at Manawatu over 1500m in June and finishing runner-up in the Listed Ag Challenge Stakes (1600m) at Wanganui and Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) at New Plymouth last start. The only blip in her preparation was her ninth-placing in the Listed Tauranga Classic (1400m) in June and Paewai said she didn’t particularly handle the right-handed way of going. “The only glitch was Tauranga, the wrong way around as I call it,” she said. “I think that had a bit to do with the race and the track didn’t really suit her that day. It wasn’t what we call heavy, like at Trentham and Palmerston North anyway.”

However, Rosewood was back in form at New Plymouth last start, running home well to finish runner-up behind Helena Baby. “That was a terrific run,” she said. “We were more thrilled than if she had won I think because of how far back she got and how she caught up and ran on that day. “That horse (Helena Baby) was one out of the box I thought. He ran beautifully. It was just a shame that day it was shifty on top, but it wasn’t as deep as what New Plymouth usually goes. “If it was slightly deeper I think he wouldn’t have got away so well, but he was a magnificent horse, I thought.”

Paewai has been pleased with Rosewood since that run and said she has settled in well to her southern surroundings, although it was a trip that took a lot of convincing for the Inglewood trainer to agree to. “She has been really good, but she always comes through those runs and bounces back,” she said. “The first time back at the track she was tossing her head and was trying to canter out onto the sand, you wouldn’t know she had had the run. “We came down on Tuesday and she has settled in very well. It is the biggest trip of my life or hers. “I have enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I have always said there is enough racing in the North Island for me. “It’s thanks to my husband and the man that helps me with the horses that we came. I would never have decided to come here, it’s too far away for me.”

Paewai has been impressed with the facilities at Riccarton and said many of the trainers have been very hospitable, particularly Mike McCann. “It’s a very good place, with the nice boxes and beautiful yards,” she said. “Everything has been really good. “We have been very lucky, we have the Mudhoo brothers (helping us out with track work). Mr McCann (their employer) lent them to us so the horses could work together if I wanted to. It has been very good.”

Rosewood has come close to securing that elusive stakes victory and Paewai is hoping her first trip south will pay dividends on Saturday. “That’s what we are hoping for (a stakes win),” she said. “It’s a big trip down here.” Rosewood’s wet track form hasn’t gone unnoticed with the TAB, with the Petone bookmakers installing her as a $4.20 favourite for the 1600m feature, ahead of fellow Central Districts gallopers Dez, Herengawe, and Red Sierra, all at $7.50.

Rosewood was not alone on her trip south earlier this week, with stablemate and fellow Redwood mare Red Forest joining her on the float. The $16,000 New Zealand Bloostock Ready-Run-Sale purchase has impressed Paewai this preparation, with two wins from five starts, and she is hoping for a third in the Brian Wilson 51 Years Farrier At Riccarton Premier (1400m) on Saturday. “She has travelled down beautifully, she is very quiet,” Paewai said. “She was very well prepared when I bought her at the Ready To Runs. She had been around, she had travelled and she takes everything in her stride. “She likes the wet as well, so we will keep our fingers crossed. She is not out of her class being in a rating 72 race.”