Australia beckoning Ellerslie victor

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  • April 23, 2024
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Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Espadas could be destined for a future across the Tasman following his maiden victory at Ellerslie on Saturday.

The three-year-old son of Ace High put in a pleasing performance for third on debut over 1200m at Pukekohe last month and was duly backed into $3.70 favouritism for the Ellerslie Events 1200 at Ellerslie on Saturday.

From his wide draw, Espadas was caught out three-wide early and jockey Ace Lawson-Carroll elected to press on with his charge. The pair had no favours and were posted three and four-wide for the trip, but Espadas showed his tenacity when rallying in the straight to record a neck victory over Night Night Dora.

“He is a nice horse,” said Shaun Clotworthy, who trains the gelding in partnership with his wife Emma. “He has had a bit of a reputation on him for a while, so it was good to see him deliver nicely like that.

“He hadn’t had a trial before he went into that first start, just a couple of easy jumpouts. We knew he had plenty of ability and we expected bold performances from him.”

His talents haven’t escaped the eyes of bloodstock agents, with Espadas likely to head to Melbourne if a deal can be struck.

“There has been a fair bit of interest in him,” Clotworthy said. “We do send a lot of horses over to Australia and we have got shares in a few at Mick Price’s, so there is a chance that he may head there, but we will see what happens.”

If he does stay in New Zealand, Clotworthy said he will go for a spell in preparation for the spring.

“He is still pretty immature, he is a big horse, so we will probably ease off him and look at somewhere in the spring for him as a four-year-old if he is still in New Zealand,” he said.

Ellerslie’s Saturday meeting was abandoned later in the day due to safety concerns, and Clotworthy, who is also the National President of the New Zealand Trainers’ Association, said it was frustrating to have two meetings abandoned at the newly-installed StrathAyr track in the space 10 days, but the industry needs to be understanding.

“It is not ideal. It is paramount for jockeys’ safety but it was just a very unusual fact that they could race six races without any incidents and then get to that race and there was a problem,” he said.

“I think everyone has just got to take a bit of a breath and understand that it is a new track. It is going to be a great track in the future, and you can see that in the amount of rain we had, and they broke 1:10 in the first race.

“For the future it is going to be outstanding for our industry, but it just needs to bed in, and we all need to understand how to work with it, it will probably just take a bit of time.”

Meanwhile, Clotworthy is looking forward to the jumping season with a couple of maiden prospects but said 2022 Great Northern Hurdle (4200m) victor Abu Dhabi may not be seen until next season.

“Abu Dhabi is back in work,” Clotworthy said. “He had a little issue last year where he had a small fracture in his hock, so we put him out and he has had a good rest and he has just come back in work. He might cop the tail end of the season, otherwise it will be next year.”


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