Group 1-winning trainer John Kiernan has never lost faith in his lightly-raced galloper Vatican News.
The Te Horo-based horseman has taken a patient approach with the five-year-old, who will make just the 15th appearance of his career when he steps out in the Wickham Clan Handicap (1200m) at Wanganui on Thursday.
“He’s been slow to mature and he’s still a bit weak, but he’s got plenty of ability,” said Kiernan, who prepared Pillage ‘N’ Plunder to win the Group 1 Adelaide Cup (3200m) in 2003.
“Little things have gone wrong with him and he can’t be kicked up early, he just gets fired up and over-races.”
Vatican News has been out four times this preparation and showed he was close to posting his third win when a last-start third at Trentham under apprentice Charlotte O’Beirne, who has retained the ride at Wanganui.
“She did a good job on the horse and did exactly as I asked her,” Kiernan said.
“He’s best left alone to relax early and then he can finish off. She rides him in work and knows him well.
“First-up at Otaki he ripped some soft tissue in his back and we got him right and then he got galloped on. He went well at Trentham with 60kg, I don’t think he’s ever gone bad races.”
Meanwhile, the in-form stable of Raymond Connors fancies the prospects of Our Chucky in the Palamountains Nutrition Maiden (2040m).
The Raise The Flag gelding has been lightly-raced and this preparation he has placed in two of his last three starts.
“He’s probably our best chance,” Connors said.
“He’s got good stamina and handles it wet, we’d like to think he’ll go pretty close.”