Southern stable a successful venture for Marsh

Exuberant will contest the JL Barr Memorial Rating 65 (1200m) at Riccarton on Friday. Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Before Stephen Marsh’s focus turns to the feature races at Matamata on Saturday, the Cambridge trainer will have his attention on Friday’s Riccarton meeting where his southern stable continues to blossom.

Marsh has four runners at the Riccarton meeting, including Call Me Coquetta, an impressive placegetter on debut, and the stakes winner Exuberant.

“The Riccarton stable is ticking away really well. It’s been a really good exercise, especially with those mares looking for black-type,” Marsh said.

“We’ve got some horses going really well. Fettercairn came from last on debut to win easily at the last meeting and she’ll now go to the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (over 1400m at Wingatui) on the same day as Derby day up here.

“Rocanto is more than paying his own way. Belle Fascino has twice been stakes placed and is now a stakes winner and Bronte Beach has been stakes placed down there.

“We’ve got 12 boxes and we’re happy with that number and we’ve got a great team of staff looking after them.”

Call Me Coquetta kicks off the Marsh runners at Riccarton in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1200m), sticking to the shorter trip in her first run since her debut third at Ashburton in December.

“We really like her. It was a good run on debut but down the chute they might just be a bit sharp for her,” Marsh said.

“She was late scratched after she cut her mouth on the way to the races the other day. She’s fine now and we think she’ll go pretty well but we had planned to give her that one and then step her up to 1400m so she might just be looking for further.”

Stablemates Exuberant and Acting Up tackle the JL Barr Memorial 1200, with four-year-old Savabeel gelding Exuberant dropping in grade and getting a prime opportunity to return to the winner’s stall for the first time since he won the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m) at Trentham on debut as a two-year-old.

While he did run third in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie later that season and second to Catalyst in the Group 3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka at three, a breathing issue has prevented Exuberant from reaching the heights he promised as a youngster.

“That hasn’t made it easy for him,” Marsh said.

“He did look like a very progressive colt when he won the Wellesley. He went a good race in the (Karaka) Million and then ran second to Catalyst but he hasn’t fulfilled his potential.

“He does get his opportunity this week though. We tried stepping him up to 1400m last start and while his run wasn’t bad, he just didn’t see it out. He’s drawn out but he’ll jump and hope to lead them throughout.

“He’s got the side winkers on and back in Rating 65 grade and he’s been working well so he’s got to be a chance.”

Marsh predicted that Acting Up would benefit from her first run since early December when she was unplaced in her South Island debut, while the stable’s other runner Effervescent also faces a wide draw in the last race.

Marsh, currently second on the trainers’ premiership, some 64 wins behind Matamata’s Jamie Richards, has a large team in action at Matamata on Saturday.

Among the 10 slated to run are last-start Group 3 Taranaki Cup (1800m) winner Vernanme, Yatima and Kiwianna in the Listed Matamata Veterinary Services Kaimai Stakes (2000m) and two-year-old fillies Fonsalette and Laneway Flirting in the Group 2 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders Stakes (1200m).

“Vernanme has come through his win the other day in really good order and it looks like he’s back to his best and Yatima is going really well too. Kiwianna drew wide in both races we entered her for so we thought we’d have a throw at the stumps in the stakes race.

“We’d love to have drawn a better gate with Fonsalette and then we’d have been really confident but she’s still got to be a good chance. Laneway Flirting has shown us a bit but we’re really just having a crack at a good race close to home with her.”

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