Rockhampton-based galloper Namazu will be given his first real test this Saturday when he lines up in a Benchmark 85 Handicap (1815m) at Eagle Farm.
Trained by Ricky Vale, the talented four-year-old has won by big margins in his past two starts at Townsville and Rockhampton respectively, but he will now look to add a metropolitan victory to his name.
Bred by Godolphin and trained under the care of James Cummings in his first nine starts, Namazu’s new owners landed on a gold mine as the horse went through the grades during the 2021 North Queensland Winter Carnival, winning three consecutive races – Magic Millions Capricornia Guineas (Rockhampton), Magic Millions Whitsunday Guineas (Mackay) and the Magic Millions Townsville Guineas (Townville) – as part of a rich 3&4YO race series.
The son of Medaglia D’oro subsequently failed in both the Cairns Cup and Cairns Amateur’s Cup at his next two starts, with his regular rider Ryan Wiggins believing it all was a bit much for him by that stage of the preparation.
“I think when he got up to 2000m over the Cairns Cup last prep he had enough,” Wiggins told HorseBetting.
“He travelled a long way (Rockhampton to Cairns) and he doesn’t settle in when he’s not at home. I think that was another thing too that they found out as well. It’s a bit hard when you get all the way to Cairns though to work out that he doesn’t enjoy not being at home.”
While Namazu will have to overcome home sickness when he lines up in race two at Eagle Farm this weekend, Wiggins is confident that the hit-and-run mission that Vale and the team have embarked on shouldn’t worry the horse too much.
“The couple of times they’ve tried to bring him down to Brisbane and race him, he hasn’t settled in real well, so I think they’re just going to try and make it a hit-and-run mission on the weekend,” the jockey continued.
“Pretty much they’ll go down the day before the race, rather than getting down two or three days before – it just hasn’t worked the last couple of times.”
Having drawn barrier five in the eight-horse field, Wiggins is hoping to land in a midfield position which should allow the horse to get into a nice rhythm and have a good winning chance to make it three on the trot.
Having won by 4.25 lengths over 1600m at Rockhampton on April 1, the hoop believes that Namazu should appreciate the similar style of track at Eagle Farm.
“He drops a lot in weight – he’s only been beating modest opposition, but he should run well,” Wiggins said.
“He can race anywhere; I’ve gone forward on him, I’ve gone back on him, but probably in that sort of race at that distance for his first go too, I’ll just ride him midfield and let the speed go.
“I think he’s been looking for the trip and he runs the distance out strong too. I think Eagle Farm will suit him – nice big track – I’d prefer him to go there than go to Doomben.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he put them away and if he wins nice and easy, I’d prefer them to find a race over the carnival – those staying races can be pretty weak and definitely winnable.
“I think his first test is on the weekend, albeit in a Benchmark race, but still it’s a step up for him. He’s a weird horse; even the other day when he won, he just doesn’t give you the feel like he’s going to put them away – he’s a real strange horse. He could have more left in the tank.”
Namazu is currently the $3 second favourite with online bookmakers to win on Saturday, while Reggiewood is the $2.40 top elect.