Wexford Stables hunt Trans-Tasman success

Little Bit Of Love
Little Bit Of Love will lineup at Te Rapa on Saturday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott are gearing up for a big day on Saturday, with a $3 million milestone looming large on home soil while classy three-year-old Geriatrix takes on a Group Three assignment in Brisbane.

O’Sullivan and Scott have enjoyed an outstanding season in New Zealand, sitting in third place on the trainers’ premiership with 59 wins. That is easily a new career-best tally for a partnership that dates back to the 2013-14 season, and their runners have earned a total of $2.95 million so far this term.

Those earnings have more than doubled the Matamata partnership’s previous best total of $1.42 million in the 2020-21 season. Now they have $3 million in their sights, and they can close in on that milestone with a talented five-horse team at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Commanding the most attention in that line-up is rising star Little Bit Of Love, who online betting sites rates a +140 favourite to extend his winning streak to five.

The four-year-old recorded a win, a fifth, a seventh and a ninth from his first four starts between December and March, but then he flicked a switch in the autumn and never looked back.

Little Bit Of Love has won all of his last four in succession, stringing together three wins at Te Rapa in April and May and adding another at Pukekohe on June 1.

The son of Time Test returns to Te Rapa on Saturday – where he is unbeaten in three starts – and will be ridden by Masa Hashizume, who has guided him to three wins from four rides.

“He’s just a real racehorse and has found a rich vein of form through the last couple of months,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s been very pleasing to see him progress the way he has.

“Saturday is going to be a big test for him. Going up into open company is always a big step and is never easy for any horse making its way up through the grades. But he’s handled everything that we’ve thrown at him so far, and hopefully that continues this week.

“Te Rapa is a track that he seems to get around particularly well, so it’ll be good to get him back there again on Saturday. Horses that race well at Te Rapa generally tend to hold their form when they return there.

“We’re looking forward to stepping him up to 1600m. We’ve really just been doing maintenance work with him since that last start win a couple of weeks ago, but he’s certainly doing very well at the moment.”

O’Sullivan and Scott will also tackle Saturday’s other open handicap, where last-start winner Highlighter meets a highly competitive line-up in the Mike Stent Decorators Sprint (1200m).

Highlighter has previously won twice at Te Rapa, and apprentice jockey Donovan Cooper’s 3kg claim will reduce her impost to 51kg.

Later in the afternoon, Canny Man and Silver Javelin are rated $7.50 and $8 chances respectively in the McKenna King Litigation (1300m), while Te Atatu Memphis is a $21 outsider for the final race on the Te Rapa card.

Across the Tasman, Geriatrix will attempt to end his Queensland campaign on a high when he lines up in the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m).

The Almanzor colt won three of his nine starts in New Zealand, then made an immediate impact in Brisbane with a powerful come-from-behind win in his Australian debut on June 1.

“We’ve been delighted with everything he’s done since that win at Eagle Farm a couple of weeks ago,” O’Sullivan said. “He seems to be on target for Saturday.

“After beating older horses over 1400m last time, we think that the Gunsynd – up over 1600m and back against his own age – is an ideal target to have a go at with him. It’s going to be a very tidy field though and no walk in the park. It’ll be the toughest test of his career so far.

“But based on his form and the way that he’s been working, we think he deserves this opportunity. It’s a nice race to have a shot at in his last start before we put him out for a good break.”

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