TRAINING duo Steven Ramsay and Julia Ritchie have the Listed Wanganui Cup on Saturday in their sights, but beforehand they will attempt to maintain their winning roll at Rotorua on Wednesday.
The Maungatautari trainers enjoyed a purple patch of form last weekend when producing Maltese Ruby to win at New Plymouth last Friday and Donizetti to follow suit at Awapuni the following day.
The double brought up seven wins for the stable this season, equalling the tally it recorded for the whole of last season, and four of those wins have come this month with Seraphim and Osama Blue also successfully sporting the well-known colours of owner-breeder Sir Peter Vela.
On Wednesday they will be saddling up Verdant, Siren Call and Libretti in a bid to stretch their season tally and on Saturday they will be chasing black-type with last-start place-getter Quintessentially.
“We didn’t have a good run last season with a few things going wrong, including Rasa Lila getting colic and being retired,” Ramsay said.
“But lately things have turned around for us. The team is starting to fire up and we’ve got some good chances this week.
“I give Quintessentially a chance in the Wanganui Cup. She’s had a couple of runs now and I thought her run at Tauranga was a good effort.
“She was supposed to run at Te Aroha over 1600m but the races got called off so she had to go straight up to 2100m at Tauranga.”
Quintessentially won its first two starts and made it three wins from the horse’s first four outings when winning a qualifying leg of the Dunstan Feeds Championship at Ellerslie 11 months ago.
Though the horse has not won in six subsequent starts, it has picked up a couple of placings and ran sixth in the Listed NZ St Leger at Trentham last March. Quintessentially has also given the impression it is now ready to take the next step, according to Ramsay.
“She’s five now and more mature,” he said.
“She’s nominated for the Cups and we’ll just see how she comes up.”
Quintessentially holds nominations for both the Avondale and Auckland Cups as well as the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final and the horse’s connections are keen to get some well-needed black print to boost the value of the High Chaparral mare.
Seraphim, a five-year-old daughter of Rip Van Winkle and the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups winner Ethereal, has also been entered for the three Ellerslie races and Ramsay is particularly pleased with its development this campaign.
“The Rips (Rip Van Winkles) are getting better with time and being out of Ethereal you’d think she would get better, too,” Ramsay said.
“I thought it was a good win at Palmerston North. I liked the way she kept running after the line.”
That Awapuni win was in Rating 65 grade over 1550 metres and it followed an encouraging fresh-up second over 1400m at Te Aroha.
“She’ll go to Trentham in a couple of weeks for a Rating 75 1600 and if she performs well there we’ll definitely be chasing black-type with her,” Ramsay said.
“Maltese Ruby will also be going down for that meeting, for a special conditions race.”
Maltese Ruby was unplaced in two Australian starts before joining the Ramsay-Ritchie barn and is unbeaten in two outings for its new trainers.
“She has just kept improving,” Ramsay said. “What I like about her is the way she gets her head down and really tries.
“She was flat on the corner at New Plymouth last Friday and was the first under the pump, but then she got out into the clear and got going and won well.”
Before their attention focuses on Quintessentially this weekend, Ramsay and Ritchie will be looking to clear maiden ranks with two of their Rotorua prospects on Wednesday.
Verdant, a four-year-old from the top racemare Clear Rose, will be their first runner on Wednesday and rates a strong chance on the strength of its last-start strong-finishing second over 2100 metres at Avondale.
“She was held up the start before at New Plymouth so she deserves a change of luck,” Ramsay said.
Siren Call will be having just the horse second start and Ramsay likes its prospects after a six-length trials win at Avondale recently.
“She won that trial very nicely and she’s done well since,” he said.
Libretti completes the stable’s attack on the Rotorua meeting and has solid lead-up form going into the BNO 1560, a Rating 65 event.
The horse cleared maiden ranks at Hastings last February and has been placed in each of its three subsequent starts, the latest a second over 1400m at New Plymouth last month.