Cambridge trainer Lauren Brennan is excited to be armed with two quality three-year-olds as the season starts to heat up for New Zealand’s Classic crop.
One of those runners is Vigor Winner, who won impressively on debut over 1200m at Hastings on New Year’s Day by 3-1/2 lengths.
“We knew he could gallop, but to win like he did was really impressive,” Brennan said. “He’s trained on really well.”
Brennan has a lot of time for the Declaration of War gelding, so much so that he was set to tackle stakes company in just his second start, but Brennan opted to save her charge for the Platinum Homes Taranaki Summer Challenge (1400m) at New Plymouth on Saturday.
“We had him entered on Karaka Million night in the Mongolian Khan Trophy (Group 3, 1400m), but just in his second start with big crowds, it might have been a bit too overwhelming for him,” she said.
“He drew eight of 10, but now he has drawn 12, so you can’t win. We have just got to hope that Troy (Harris, jockey) can figure it out.”
Harris rode Vigor Winner to victory on debut and Brennan has elected to stick with the winning combination and believes her charge will be better suited to the 1400m distance.
“Troy Harris will stay with him, he knows the horse. He has a couple of quirks,” Brennan said.
“He couldn’t be training any better. It is probably a better distance than the 1200m for him, going the 1400m.”
That will be welcome news for slot holders Woburn Farm who will be hoping to cap off a big week at Karaka with victory in the Summer Challenge with their selection.
Brennan said she is lucky to have Vigor Winner in her stable, with the Hong Kong-owned gelding previously earmarked to race in the Asian racing jurisdiction before failing several vet inspections.
“He was supposed to go up to Hong Kong, but he failed the vet a number of times,” she said.
If he performs as expected on Saturday, Vigor Winner will be set to line-up in the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham in March.
“If he runs well, he’ll probably head to the Wellington Guineas, but we’ll just play it by ear and wait until after he runs,” Brennan said.
Another stable runner that is exciting connections and punters alike is fellow Classic contender Sword In Stone.
The Redwood gelding stormed home late to win his maiden at Ellerslie earlier this month by 1-1/4 lengths and will contest the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) next week in preparation for a tilt at the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (1400m) in March.
“It’s nice to have a couple in the stable that win like that,” Brennan said. “He’s going to go to the Waikato Guineas next week and Michael Rodd will ride him.
“Paul Hickman owns him and called Michael to see if he would come over and ride him, he rides a bit for Paul up in Singapore. He answered the call and so he’s on him, and Magnum in the sprint, so that’s good.
“We have got to get through the Waikato Guineas and if he runs credible enough we’ll head to the Derby. It would be straight into the Derby from there.”