Prise De Fer was rewarded for his consistency when recording his first elite-level victory in the Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham last year, and trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson are hoping for a repeat dose in this year’s edition, when run as the TAB Classic on Saturday.
The Savabeel gelding was five-times Group 1 placed before his breakthrough victory at elite-level, and followed that up with another placing in the Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2050m) on Boxing Day last year.
His trainers have elected to take a similar path this year, with the eight-year-old gelding taking a last start runner-up result in the Group 3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) into Saturday.
“I thought his run on Saturday was really good. It was good to see him back in form and hitting the line like he did,” Sam Bergerson said.
“We can’t fault him here at home. He has come through the run really well and he is bouncing around the stable and looks as good as he ever has.”
Te Akau Racing will also line-up Group 1 performer Brando in the Trentham feature, and Bergerson said he is another horse deserving of an elite-level victory.
“I thought his run last time (for third in the Group 2 Tauranga Stakes, 1600m) was okay. The rain came at Tauranga and the ground got really shifty. He can obviously handle a rain-affected track but I am not sure he loved that type of heavy,” he said.
“He is another that seems in good form and it would be good to see him win a Group 1 because he is such a stable favourite for everyone at home. He is a real character.
“He was probably a bit stiff not to win the Levin Classic (Group 1, 1600m) as a three-year-old down there, so hopefully he can pick this one up.
“He had a fantastic season last season. We think he is going the right way but he is going to need a little bit of luck and to improve a bit to beat a couple of these.
“Opie (Bosson, jockey) rode him on Tuesday on the course proper at Matamata and was really happy with him.”
The stable has a third bullet in the chamber for the race in Fashion Shoot, who has won two of her three starts this preparation, including the Group 3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton last month.
“Her last start win was fantastic. It was a very patient ride and she is going to need something like that to win,” Bergerson said.
“It is a step up to a Group One but one I think she is deserving of, she has been a really good consistent mare for us who is in really good form.
“Opie onboard is a massive plus and we will look to ride her similar to last start – go back and have one last run at them.
“It seems a very even field on paper. We have three nice chances and hopefully they can all have nice runs in transit. Hopefully, with a bit of luck, they can be there or thereabouts.”