Awapuni trainer Roydon Bergerson has a host of promising three-year-olds including Wakari and Nest Egg who will clash in Saturday’s Group 2 Dundeel At Arrowfield Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m).
Wakari enters the Hastings contest as the +150 favourite on the back of a strong win in the Listed Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m) on the opening day of the Hawkes Bay Carnival.
“He has really come through that race better than his first start. He has been eating really well and his work has stepped up. I couldn’t be happier with him,” Bergerson said.
“He has got a good draw (barrier 4) to get the perfect trip, so we will try to find a spot one-out, one-back.
“He is a pretty relaxed horse and I don’t think he is just a sprinter. I thought I Wish I Win might have headed him halfway down the straight last time, but he fought back well and was pulling away on the line, so I can’t see the step up in trip being an issue.”
The son of Vespa, who is raced by a syndicate headed by Bob Wiltshire, showed well above average ability as a juvenile, winning by four lengths at his second start at Awapuni before a life-threatening injury presented.
“He must have struck himself turning in at Palmerston that day and when he got back to scale he could hardly walk,” Bergerson said.
“We had an x-ray done and a good-sized chip had come away from the sesamoid and the tendon had come away as well. It didn’t look very good.
“The x-rays were sent to Waikato and they said it probably wasn’t worth operating on, with a poor prognosis survival wise and his racing days were over by the look of it.
“We just persevered and put him in a box for two months. Then he went to Chris Rutten’s to a small paddock for another two months before he was x-rayed again. The vets couldn’t believe that it had healed so well.
“We sent him to the water-walker at John Trumper’s for five weeks before we brought him back here. We gave him every opportunity and it has paid off hopefully.”
Wakari is on a path towards the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), and Bergerson is hopeful Nest Egg, who is also Guineas-nominated, can shape as a middle distance horse of the future.
“He has never had any luck Nest Egg. His first start was very promising and then we gave him a break and he had problems tying-up badly. We couldn’t really get the work into him like we wanted to and he was going to the races half-fit,” Bergerson said.
“He came good at the end of his campaign and is always finding the line strongly. He is a beautiful balanced horse with a good action and a good stride on him.
“We put him in the race when he drew barrier two in the Wanganui Guineas and I don’t think it really suited him.
“We will ride him back a bit on Saturday and let him get home and he will appreciate the better track. He is going to be a better miler and 2000m horse.”
The Awapuni horseman has an embarrassment of riches in the three-year-old ranks, with Reign It In firming into +1700 for the Guineas after winning impressively at Waverley on Thursday.
“We are trying to get him to Riccarton. He was impressive yesterday and is a really nice horse,” Bergerson said.
“He is a very good athlete that I have always had a lot of time for but he has been a big baby that hasn’t grown into his brain yet. He is getting there but it has been a testing last few months.
“He is really starting to hit his straps now and we will take him to Hawke’s Bay on the last day of the carnival, where there are several options for him, and hopefully we can get him to Riccarton where he would love the big track.”
Bergerson will also have talented Tavistock mare Town Cryer resuming over 1400m at Hawke’s Bay on Saturday.
“She should run a bit of a race fresh, but she is not 100 percent in her coat yet. She is probably a couple of weeks away. She is a very nice mare that will be a cracker in the autumn. She will have quite a light spring,” he said.