Darryn and Briar Weatherley have been well-represented in stakes events this season and that trend will continue at Te Rapa on Saturday with a trio of feature race contenders.
The Matamata trainers have stable favourite Mali Ston and the progressive Arby in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) while gifted filly Tulsi will step out in the Group 2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m).
“We’re quite proud of our little team, we’ve only had three winners but most of our runners have been in Group or Listed races,” Darryn Weatherley said.
“They’ve been going good races and we haven’t had any midweekers or maidens and it’s great to have a couple in the Group One, although it’s obviously going to be hard to beat Legarto.
“Both my boys are really well and I couldn’t separate them to be honest and both deserve their spot in the field.”
Mali Ston finished third in the Group 3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) three runs back after he was held up in the run home and then finished eighth in the Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2050m), again denied room in the straight.
The son of El Roca suffered a similar fate in his most recent outing when he charged home late once clear to run third at Tauranga.
“I would get a great thrill if he could put his foot in the till, he’s got a lovely bunch of owners in the Matijasevich family,” Weatherley said.
“It would be wonderful to kick a Group One goal for them.”
Weatherley’s son Sam will partner Mali Ston while Joe Doyle will ride Arby, who finished well for a last-start fifth in the Aotearoa Classic (1600m) and the Proisir four-year-old will appreciate the step up in distance on Saturday.
“It was a four-year-old race over a mile worth $1 million so we tried to keep him as fresh as we could, but he is a stayer and was looking for 2000m,” Weatherley said.
“He got outpaced early and was finding it a bit uncomfortable after a shower of rain and found it hard to get fraction.
“When they straightened and he got balanced, he really came home strongly. He hasn’t got the speed to pounce and put himself in the race and he’s certainly going well.
“If he can put in the sectionals that he did the other night at Ellerslie, they’ll know he’s in the race.”
Younger stablemate Tulsi also had little luck when third in the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and was then caught wide without cover when seventh in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m).
At her last appearance, the daughter of The Autumn Sun overcame a bump in the run home to finish runner-up at Ellerslie.
“She’s been running against the best fillies and has been thereabouts. Her run in the 1000 Guineas was huge, taking nothing away from Molly Bloom,” Weatherley said.
“She had no favours from an outside gate and dragged Molly Bloom into the race and still fought on well.
“At Ellerslie the other day, the winner (Fortunate Son) got slow sectionals across the top and we were back second to last and she really flew the last bit. It was a better run that it looked.”
The Te Rapa team also includes the consistent Be A Roca, who will contest the Dr John Southworth Memorial Vase (1200m).
“She loves the track, with a couple of wins, and that’s a big plus because it is a bit horses for courses there,” Weatherley said.
“We gave her a week off after her last run on an unsuitable track at Hawke’s Bay and she still went a brave race for fourth.
“She is really thriving and her work has been super and she looks a million dollars.”