Cork ready for delayed first-up Classic challenge

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  • July 05, 2023
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Progressive mare Cork is forward to resume at Hastings on Saturday, although co-trainer Pam Gerard would have preferred to have seen her back in action a week earlier.

The lightly raced five-year-old was to have made her return in take one of the Listed Tauranga Classic (1400m), but following the abandonment of the meeting has instead headed to Hastings for the rescheduled Team Wealleans-sponsored feature.

“It’s unfortunate that she didn’t get to go around at Tauranga as she has won there over the distance on that day for the last two years. We were pretty keen to get there,” said Gerard, who trains in partnership at Matamata with Michael Moroney.

“We’re very happy with her and we don’t usually give her a trial (at Te Rapa) as she’s a mare that doesn’t take a lot of work, but she was doing that well that we decided to pop a trial into her.”

Cork has won three of her 12 starts, all on rain-affected going, and finished runner-up in last season’s Listed Opunake Cup (1400m).

“She was very slow to mature and she’s finally strengthened up and loves a wet track,” Gerard said.

The daughter of Complacent holds an entry for the Gr.3 Winning Edge Presentations Winter Cup (1600m) and will need to produce a bold showing at Hastings to keep the southern event on her radar.

“She’s been nominated and there are options for her, we’ll just see what happens on Saturday and then make a call from there,” Gerard said.

The stable will also be represented at the Hawke’s Bay meeting by Lingjun Hero and Lingjun Xionfeng with the former looking to complete a hat-trick of wins when he steps out in the Taradale Cup Handicap (1200m).

“He has finally settled down as being a colt he hasn’t been the easiest to deal with,” Gerard said.

“For some reason, things have clicked and he’s worked it all out. He’s performing really well.”

The son of Shooting To Win was successful at Te Rapa before he followed up with victory at Hastings earlier this month in the hands of apprentice Lily Sutherland, who will retain the mount.

Lingjun Xionfeng was a last-start third over the course and distance and is expected to again be competitive if he does start in the Tims Construction Handicap (1600m).

“He likes a bit of sting out of the track, but not too wet so we will wait and see if we run him,” Gerard said.

“We might just put him aside until we get a better track, but he is very well and I’m sure he’ll go a bottler if he does line up.”

Gerard also has a number of runners at Ruakaka on Saturday and among them is the promising juvenile Tonia’s Dragon, who will be ridden by Kozzi Asano in the Northland Business Systems (1100m).

The daughter of Time Test has posted consecutive trials wins at Avondale and Te Awamutu and while the stable has a good opinion of the filly, she will be all the better for the race day experience.

“I quite like her and she’s been very impressive at the trials, but obviously it’s a big day out and all new to her,” Gerard said.

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