McKay on weather watch

The Mitigator
The Mitigator (inside) winning the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m). Photo: Grant Matthew (Race Images Palmerston North)

Peter McKay will be keeping close tabs on the weather forecast ahead of the Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Group 1 Classic (1600m) at Otaki on Saturday.

The Matamata trainer is hoping to secure another Group 1 mile victory with The Mitigator after his Thorndon Mile (1600m) heroics at Trentham last month, but he said the track will need to play its part. “Every Group 1 is hard to win and everything will have to go 100 percent. At the moment it is not, with the track at a Slow7 at this stage (Wednesday morning), so we are a bit worried about the weather. “Hopefully the sun comes out and can dry it out.”

It is forecast to rain on Friday and Saturday at Otaki and McKay said they will have to take a wait and see approach ahead of the race. “We’ll just have to play it by ear when we get there. We will head down on Friday and we will check again what the track is like by then and what the weather is looking like.”

The weather is out of McKay’s hands, but he is pleased with the five-year-old ahead of Saturday and said he has come through his tough second-placed run to Te Akau Shark in the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa earlier this month well. “He came through it a lot better than I thought he would,” McKay said. “It was quite a hard run. “He cleaned up everything that night and seemed bright enough by Monday. His work has shown he has come through the race well.”

The Mitigator has drawn the outside gate in the 11 horse field, which holds no concerns for McKay who reiterated the importance of the racing surface on Saturday. “He jumps and goes forward anyway, so he will be rolling forward to lead probably,” he said. “The only part I can’t change is the track. If it is an average track, which we met at Palmerston North three starts back, he won’t cop it.”

McKay’s son Shaun will be reunited with The Mitigator on Saturday after being ruled out of his BCD Group Sprint run through suspension and McKay said he is looking forward to reuniting with the horse that gave him his first Group 1 win as a jockey. “He has become Shaun’s favourite horse,” McKay said. “It used to be Amarula, he won 10 races on him and won his first Group race on him. “But you can’t take anything away from winning a Group 1, so that put the other boy down a peg or two.”

McKay will also take Americo south to contest the Otaki Mail Maiden (1600m). The son of Bel Esprit has placed in four of his five career starts and McKay is hoping he can break through for his maiden victory on Saturday. “He is going down there as a travelling companion,” McKay said. “It has come up a nice little field, but he has been going some nice races.”

The gelding is owned by McKay, wife Kim, and sons Jacob and Shaun, and he said the family gets great enjoyment from watching him race. “Jacob originally bought him in Australia and was trialling him up to sell him,” McKay said. “He won a couple of trials and he couldn’t sell him, so we all got together and purchased him to be a racehorse. He will be a bit of fun hopefully. “At Matamata (last start) Shaun was suspended, but he came along and watched it race. Jacob had one in later in the day, but he came down earlier, just to be on hand. It is a lot of enjoyment for the family.”