Cole seeking to plunder Northland winter riches

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  • June 30, 2023
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Steven Cole is hoping to seal a place in the ITM/GIB Winter Championship Finals next month when he heads to Ruakaka on Saturday.

The Byerley Park trainer will head north with a handful of runners this weekend and he is hoping a couple of them on the cusp of qualifying can pass that threshold.

“It is a great series,” Cole said.

“A lot of the better horses are out, so if you have those second-tier horses, it is a nice series that you can aim them for with good stakes attached to it.

“If your horses go well at Ruakaka, they normally keep going well up there, which is handy.”

Pozzi Vibe has been one of those consistent performers for Cole, having finished runner-up in his last two starts at the Northland venue, and he is hoping the four-year-old gelding can go one better in the Ruakaka Races – NZ’s Best Bet In Winter (1600m) on Saturday.

“He’s been going to win a race for a while,” Cole said. “He has thrown a couple of races away, one being at Avondale a few starts ago.

“He seems to go well at Ruakaka. The racing pattern there normally suits front-running horses earlier in the day, which he seems to do.

“He has got a nice draw (5) where he should be prominent throughout. If he does everything right, you would hope he would be a top chance.”

TAB bookmakers have installed the son of Iffraaj a $5 second favourite behind the Jenna Mahoney-trained Cimarron at $3.80.

Stablemate Magneto also features prominently in the betting market later on the card, with bookmakers opening him as a $5.50 favourite for the Waipu Winter Festival (1200m).

“He went a super race last time (when runner-up at Ruakaka),” Cole said.

“He copped a bit of interference but was still pretty brave. He won at Ruakaka last winter and his form looks promising.

“If he can run in the top three there, he will qualify for one of the finals races in a few weeks time, which is the plan with him.

“He should be a nice chance.”

Cole will also line-up New Arrangement in the Northpine Waipu Cup (1400m), Mighty Bright in the 15 July ITM/GIB Northen Winter Championships (1400m), and Rubyshowoff in the Tanalised Mile (1600m).

“New Arrangement went well three starts ago at Awapuni on the wet track. He has gone a couple of average ones on really heavy tracks,” he said.

“We’re taking him back to the scene of the crime where he won first-up for us.

“He has spent the last week up at Ruakaka working on the beach with Michelle Marshall, so hopefully a little change in scenery will help him put his best foot forward as his best form in that field he should be a top-three chance.

“Mighty Bright has done plenty of racing at Ruakaka. I think he has run out of the money only once up there.

“Last start was probably too heavy for him at Avondale. We rolled the dice with it being an early race, but he didn’t cop the track, so I would expect a quick turnaround for him because he is quite a nice horse.

“Rubyshowoff went a super race first-up and she raced through Ruakaka last winter. I would say the step up to 1600m will be ideal for her.

“It is quite a sticky barrier being one from the outside, but she is a really honest filly.

“Hopefully if she can run in the money up there then she qualifies for the finals series as well.

“She tries hard and Masa (Hashizume, jockey) gets along with her, so I expect a good run from her.”

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