Denby Road on the comeback trail

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  • May 09, 2024
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Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Last season’s Gr.3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) winner Denby Road has returned to work with an eye towards the spring.
The giant son of Shamexpress was a consistent performer in his three-year-old term, with two wins and two placings from his seven starts for trainer Shelley Hale, culminating in his Breeders’ Stakes victory.
“That (Cambridge Breeders’) was an awesome result,” Hale said. “He was coming back from a staying preparation and to come back and win a nice 1200m three-year-old race was a good effort.”
He returned to tackle spring racing as a four-year-old, but his season was all but ruled out following the results of a scan after his first trial in August.
“Getting him ready for the spring, unfortunately I noticed a bit of heat in his tendon after a trial, so we scanned it and pulled up stumps,” Hale said.
“It has scanned really well now, so we are just giving him a nice, slow build-up towards the spring.
“We will keep him to sprint trips now and will kick him off in a (rating) 75 and see where we end up.”
While not ideal, Hale said Denby Road’s time on the sideline could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“The bit of time in the paddock wouldn’t have hurt him at all because he is a very big boy, he’s 17.2 hands now, so he did very well to cop a three-year-old campaign,” she said.
Stablemate Blue Sky At Night is another from Hale’s barn who has made their return from injury, scoring first-up at Te Rapa last Saturday in the Forsyth Barr Mile (1600m).
“It was a huge effort from the mare, she was fresh-up from the Dunstan Final and I thought she was going to go well,” Hale said. “When she got back a couple of lengths behind the others, I thought it was going to be hard for her, but she was a bit too good, it was very pleasing.”
Blue Sky At Night was fourth in the Dunstan Horsefeeds Stayers’ Championship Final (2400m) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day and injured herself in a paddock accident while having a freshen-up, which put a spanner in the works for her autumn preparation.
“We put her out after the Dunstan Final for a couple of weeks freshen-up and she knocked a tendon and had an unexplained hind end soreness for a bit,” Hale said. “I was hoping to have some autumn targets like the Hawke’s Bay Cup (Listed, 2200m) and Rotorua Cup (Listed, 2200m), but she ended up on the sidelines for a bit, so we have come back a bit late for those races unfortunately.
“She was supposed to race at Ellerslie when they abandoned the meeting two weeks ago and if we had got there and got the result that we got on Saturday, then she probably could have made the Rotorua Cup. There is not a lot coming up, so it is a bit of a headscratcher at the minute.”
Hale is hoping the stable’s winning ways can continue at Matamata on Wednesday where Talentoso is currently a $3.10 favourite with TAB bookmakers for the Matamata Function Centre 2000.
“He is going good races, but he hasn’t had much luck,” Hale said. “We would prefer it not to be a Heavy track, but with the rain we have had I would say it will likely be Heavy.
“He is genuine and tries pretty hard. He worked with the mare (Blue Sky At Night) on Wednesday last week and worked well with her.”
Talentoso has drawn barrier 12 and will be ridden by Sam Weatherley.
“I probably prefer him out a bit wider with a little more space,” Hale said. “He got a bit of a fright when he lost the rider at Te Rapa, so drawing out suits him a bit better. I would like to see him relax a bit midfield away from the fence and we know he can get home pretty well.”

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