Local trainer Roydon Bergerson got his day off to the best possible start at Awapuni when talented three-year-old Nest Egg made it back-to-back victories as he got in the deciding stride in a blanket finish to the Richard Simpson Contracting 3YO (1400m).
The son of Reliable Man had broken his maiden status on the track back in November with a powerful late burst to score narrowly over 1600m and it was nearly a carbon copy of that effort on Saturday as rider Hazel Schofer once again timed her finish to a nicety to secure victory.
Schofer settled Nest Egg at the rear in the early stages before setting out after the leaders approaching the 600m.
Just as northern raider Turn The Ace looked set to fight out the finish with another pair of locals in Prioress and Third Time Round, Nest Egg extended bravely to pop his nose in front at the winning post with noses separating Third Time Round, Turn The Ace and Prioress for the minor placings.
Bergerson has Nest Egg nominated for the Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie in March and can’t wait to see his charge step up over more ground in the next few weeks.
“The Derby is our main aim and he is only going to get better when he gets to 2000m and further,” Bergerson said.
“He was very good winning over a mile last time, after which we gave him a little freshen up.
“Today over 1400m he settled back but came into it nicely approaching the turn, before letting down strongly to get the win.
“Hazel said he hit a flat spot about 50m out, but picked himself up and went again, which is a really good sign for future plans.”
The younger brother to promising stayer Chakana, who finished fourth in the Dunstan Stayers Championship Final (2400m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, Nest Egg has always shown Bergerson that his forte would be over a middle distance.
“He had a couple of starts as a two-year-old, but we didn’t want to stress him as he was always going to get better with time on his side,” he said.
“Everyone who has ridden him has said the same thing so it’s time to step him up now and see if he can measure up.
“One thing that has changed has been putting the blinkers on as he is just a different horse. We only put them on for raceday and Hazel says he just has a completely different feel when he has them on.
“The points and prizemoney he got today will help get us into some better races, so we’ll work out how we get him to the Avondale Guineas (Group 2, 2100m) next, as the lead-up to the Derby a fortnight later.”
Nest Egg, who was raised at boutique Manawatu nursery Highden Park, is out of the stakes-placed Bahhare mare Run To The Bank and was bred by David Price and Brian Stewart who share in his ownership with Mark and Celia Wyborn and Robin Peel-Walker.
Bergerson also advised that Doubletree By Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) favourite Wolverine has thrived since her win in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day and was jumping out of her skin.
“We took Wolverine home straight after that Ellerslie win and she was in her box by 9:30pm that night,” he said.
“When I saw her the next morning, she had eaten everything we gave her and was looking for more.
“She spent three days down on the farm with Chris Rutten and since she has been back, she has been a real handful.
“She came off the track this morning squealing like a pig, so she is a very happy horse.
“That experience she had going to Ellerslie is invaluable looking ahead to the Karaka Million and it’s very exciting to have such a good chance in the race, especially as she is doing it all on natural ability as I really believe she won’t be at her best until next season.”