New Plymouth trainer Allan Sharrock will have a two-pronged attack on Saturday’s Listed Courtesy Ford Ryder Stakes (1200m) headed by last-start stakes winner Sophmaze and impressive debut winner Librarsi.
The juvenile feature has been added to the Te Rapa card following the early call to abandon the same-day Otaki meeting due to a rain-sodden track and a miserable forecast.
While hosting the race further north has bolstered the number of opponents for his pair, several of which no longer have to travel, Sharrock, whose brother Bruce heads New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, believes administrators have acted responsibly.
“It is definitely better making the call early,” Sharrock said.
“Bruce is pulling his hair out, we are in the worst July we have had for a number of years and I think that at least we get to race the Ryder Stakes which is quite important and the call was made early.
“I think there was 80mls of rain forecast for Otaki on Friday and Saturday and even if they only got 20mls they were no hope of racing.”
Listed Castletown Stakes (1200m) winner Sophmaze is the more experienced of Sharrock’s duo and has won her past two starts after placing at her first two runs and the Taranaki horseman has a slight leaning to the daughter of Derryn.
“She is that tractable,” Sharrock said. “She is so laid back and can take a position anywhere in the field and was pretty dominant at Waverley. She gave them a good kicking that day.
“You always have that kick back issue at Te Rapa. I have raced there quite often and had the odd-one we’ve backed that never went a stride in it, but generally it provides a better surface than most winter tracks so I don’t see the track being a problem for her.
“Like I say, she is very tractable so she’ll race anywhere in the field and be very strong late.”
Lisa Allpress will again ride Sophmaze, while Craig Grylls, who partnered Librarsi to her maiden success at Otaki, is keen to stick with the Gerry Harvey-bred and raced daughter of Reliable Man.
The pair clashed when second (Sophmaze) and fourth (Librarsi) in a 1000m trial at Foxton eight days ago with Sharrock delighted with what he witnessed.
“Both horses were only there for a gallop to fit them up for this race. Funnily both jockeys said they could have won it, so that was nice to hear,” he said.
“Librarsi, we purposely rode her back in the trial to give her a bit more education. Sophmaze was only going around and Lisa said going to the line she had to check herself and say wait another week.
“They both trialled really well and I was happy with them, they haven’t turned a hair since.”
Sharrock said Gerry Harvey had been a good supporter of the stable and he was delighted to train a quality filly like Librarsi for the successful Australian businessman, who owns Westbury Stud which has bases at Karaka and Matamata.
“I saw her at the Ready To Run Sale, she was passed in and ran an attractive time and looked a power pack. I did a bit of fishing with Russell (Warwick, Westbury Stud General Manager) and he said we are going to keep her and asked if I would you like to train her, so that is how that eventuated,” Sharrock said.
“We probably know more about Sophmaze on wet ground, she does handle it but the other filly is a Reliable Man and generally they handle it too and she seems to handle it in her work.
“Craig Grylls was pretty happy with her first up win and was coming to Otaki to ride her so that tells you she gave him a nice feel.”
Meanwhile, Sharrock is pleased with a number of spring contenders and is hoping to tackle the Group 2 Waikato Stud Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa on August 27 en masse, with the likes of Darci La Bella, recent trial winner Tavi Mac and last-start course winner Butler.
“Darci La Bella will go to the Foxbridge Plate. Lisa Allpress intimated 1200m is her go rather 1400m after her fifth placing in the Opunake Cup,” Sharrock said.
“She did over-race a bit and that 1400m was more like 1500m on that track. I’m not saying she won’t get 1400m, but she deserves a crack at the Foxbridge.
“Tavi Mac will run in the Foxbridge Plate and then into the Tarzino Trophy (Group 1, 1400m). I don’t think I have had him any better. He will either go to the trials at Te Rapa or Otaki. He is fairly forward, I’m pretty happy with him.”
Sharrock has long had a good opinion of 85-rated galloper Butler, who has won five of his nine races, but would be borderline to make the Foxbridge Plate field.
“He is probably as good as the other two but lacks ratings points. I think I have to push the boat out and have a go with Butler, I think he is capable of that, but whether we get in the race is another question.
“There is an open sprint the same day at Palmerston North for $40,000 so his fate will be determined by how many higher qualified runners are in the race.”
Sharrock was also thrilled with the run of Justaskme when fourth in last Saturday’s Opunake Cup under his 60kg impost and has circled the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) as a potential long-range target for his 101-rated six-year-old.