Matamata trainer Jamie Richards is hoping his clock is wrong with talented Reliable Man filly Gris Dame.
There might not be a sense of timing about Group Two performer Gris Dame ahead of her upcoming three-year-old assignments, but Richards and his training partner Stephen Autridge are keen to give her the best possible opportunity to prove them wrong.
Gris Dame will tackle Saturday’s Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie as a lead-up to next month’s Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.
“We’re really pleased with her, but she might still be six months away,” Richards said.
“Everyone that rides her says ‘lovely filly, she’s going to make a terrific four-year-old’. So we’re mindful this is all coming up a bit quick for her, but she’s talented and she certainly deserves her chance.”
A maiden winner over Saturday’s race rival Fiscal Fantasy at Te Aroha in November, Gris Dame went on to run a fast finishing third to Contessa Vanessa and Kapoor in the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, form that should see her competitive in the Sunline Vase.
“She ran well at Pukekohe the other day. She was first-up over a mile on a heavy track which wasn’t ideal, but we were stuck between a rock and a hard place because she needed the run,” Richards said.
“She worked with Mongolianconqueror on the track here on Tuesday and it was first-class work. She should settle in the first half-dozen on Saturday and hopefully she can run well.”
Gris Dame is the TAB’s $8.20 fourth favourite for the Sunline Vase behind Contessa Vanessa at $2.50, Marcellina at $5.20 and Kapoor at $5.50 and a $41 outsider for the Oaks.
Meanwhile, Richards has his fingers crossed for a good track and a clean getaway for his Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) hope Mongolianconqueror at Ellerslie on Saturday.
“He just needs a decent track and to get away from the barriers. His Avondale Guineas run was better than it looked and we just need him to produce a run like he did when he was second in the Waikato Guineas,” Richards said.
In Australia, the Te Akau team has noticed good improvement from Group One winner Embellish ahead of the Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
“We’ve kept his workouts sharp to keep the speed in his legs for a strong mile,” Richards said.
“Opie [Bosson, jockey] said he was starting to get a bit dour. We’ve had him down at the beach and he’s loved that. He probably needs to improve significantly on his run the other day to win, but if he gets the right run, he’s up to it.” – NZ Racing Desk.