Cambridge trainers looking to repeat home heroics

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  • July 25, 2023
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By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray had themselves a royal day out at the last meeting on the all-weather track at Cambridge and will be hoping for more of the same on Wednesday.

The local training duo celebrated success on their home course earlier this month with Brave Spirit, Hammer Time and Nystrom and they will be in action again, along with Timing and Avaya.

“They will almost certainly go for a break after this, they’re not really winter horses,” Ritchie said.

“Obviously, with the lure of $40,000 stakes in our back yard and on a good track they will be running and then go out for a month before getting ready for the summer.”

Following his debut victory, Brave Spirit will bid to retain his unbeaten record when he steps out in the Martin Collins New Zealand MAAT Handicap (1300m), in which he will be opposed by stablemates Timing and Avaya.

“I was actually a shade disappointed with him (Brave Spirit), his trials had been superb and had showed plenty at home but he was green and almost a bit complacent in the race,” Ritchie said.

“We’re pretty sure the motor is under the bonnet, so we’ll apply a pair of side winkers just to sharpen his concentration and we’ve had some Swiss Aces in the past and we’ve done that and got a good response.

“He is probably the most talented horse, but Timing is going on the right trajectory and her win last time was off a four-week break and she’s doing the same again.”

By Darci Brahma, Timing broke her maiden over the course and distance last month at her fifth appearance.

“We’ve kept her fresh and she was a handful when we first started training her and she’s starting to mellow and work with us so I think she will be better again next prep,” Ritchie said.

“She will get back in midfield, she won’t be part of the early speed, and she attacked the line extremely well last start.”

Zoustar’s daughter Avaya was also a track and distance winner two runs back before she backed that up with a sound fourth, again on the synthetic surface.

“Avaya is as genuine as they come and she can fly the gate and put herself right there,” Ritchie said.

“She’s drawn four, which is a good gate for her and should get an economical trip. If the luck doesn’t fall the favourites’ way, she is perhaps one horse who could take advantage of that.”

Hammer Time has won his last two starts over 1550m on the course and the son of Vadamos steps up in trip in the Martin Collins New Zealand MAAT Handicap (2000m).

“He is a perfect example of a horse who wouldn’t be in at this time of the year if it wasn’t for the polytrack,” Ritchie said.

“He will go out win, lose or draw afterwards and he could develop into an extremely good stayer.

“He’s got a bit of weight (59kg), but Jess Allen will claim the 4kg off and the last time they were together (two runs back) they broke the track record.

“He’s extremely well-bred and his second dam Romanee Conti won the Hong Kong Cup (Gr.3, 1800m) and he’s got the looks, he’s a handsome horse.

“All things being equal, he’s without a doubt going to be the horse to beat in the last race.”

Iffraaj’s daughter Nystrom will contest the Martin Collins New Zealand MAAT Handicap (1550m) and has the perfect gate to again be prominent.

“Nystrom built to that win well last time and barrier one is a gift for her and will almost certainly be right there. She should be highly competitive in this field, that’s for sure,” Ritchie said. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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