Byerley Park trainer Danny Walker senses an opportunity at Te Rapa on Saturday with in-form winter galloper Crystallize.
The last start winner contests the Super Seth @ Waikato Stud Mile (1600m), an Open Handicap in which the six-year-old gelding will carry 52.5kgs after the claim of apprentice Ace Lawson-Carroll.
A now seven-time winner, the gutsy son of Iffraaj has some placings at handicap level, but with resuming Group One performers Beauden and Sherwood Forest heading the weights for tomorrow’s contest, Crystallize again looks hard to beat.
“He is the same as he was a couple of weeks ago and certainly hasn’t gone backwards. He is in the same sort of mode,” Walker said.
Crystallize will tackle a mile for only the second time in his career, and with rain falling on Friday on the Slow9 Te Rapa surface, he should cope with conditions at what has been a happy hunting ground, finishing top two on eight occasions from 13 starts at the venue.
“I’ve always wanted to give a mile a go at Te Rapa,” Walker said. “I have been a bit dubious about the really heavy tracks like Ellerslie, which he doesn’t seem to cop quite so well.
“At Te Rapa he seems to get through the ground quite easily and there just hasn’t really been a mile race for him.
“It doesn’t get heavy and puggy like it does at other tracks. When it comes to a Heavy10, they tend to be all different types of tracks.
“He is getting to the stage in his career where we have to go where we can now and where it suits him.”
Walker sees no reason for a change in the positive tactics employed on the game galloper previously, including his last-start win which provided four-kilo claiming apprentice Lawson-Carroll with the first win of his career.
“The horse likes to dominate, that is the way he is happy racing. I can’t see there being any change to be fair,” Walker said.
“He likes to take the other horses out of their comfort zone and he does it of his own accord. He seems to like to travel around the corner and I think the horses with weight seem to struggle to go with him when he has got the lighter weight.”
Walker doesn’t believe his charge is a good weight carrier and is hopeful the top-rated pair are not at their peak, with bigger targets ahead in spring.
“A horse like him, he is probably not good enough to go to the Hawke’s Bay carnival and I did think about going to the Winter Cup (Group 3, 1600m) but he would have had to carry 60 kilos and the track was very, very testing, which wouldn’t have been his cup of tea,” he said.
“He has just got to potter around in these claiming races. To be fair, if Beauden and Sherwood Forest weren’t in the race, he’d have 62 kilos to carry. We have just got to take our opportunities when they come.”
The South Auckland-based horseman, who trades a number of horses as well as preparing them for raceday, has a number of young horses in work at present.
Walker is happy to once again support 17-year-old Lawson-Carroll, who is bidding to add to his solitary winner to date from just 13 raceday rides.
“Ace comes and rides a few here and there for me. He has done a lot of trial work and jumpout riding for me. He is a good boy that does everything you ask him to do, and he is pretty sensible about it too,” Walker said.
“I am working about 17 at the moment. I have got some lovely young horses, but they won’t be doing a lot until later in the spring when the tracks get a little bit better.”