Derby winner on the comeback trail

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  • July 19, 2023
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Former Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Sherwood Forest made his first public appearance this year at the Foxton trials on Tuesday and he pleased trainer Bill Thurlow with his hit-out.

The rising seven-year-old gelding was given a quiet outing over 1200m and finished runner-up behind Sweetjineen in his heat.

The son of Fastnet Rock had a standout three-year-old term for former trainer Tony Pike, winning the New Zealand Derby and Gr.3 War Decree Stakes (1600m), and placed in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m).

He has subsequently been plagued by injury issues and has yet to recapture that form, but Thurlow is hoping conditioning on his Waverley farmland will help rejuvenate the gelding, who had two starts last spring for the Taranaki horseman before injury struck again.

“He is a bit of a work in progress,” Thurlow said.

“He has had a couple of injuries and everything is not 100 percent with him, but we are working through it. I thought he went really well today.

“He had a couple of starts last spring and was just coming right and he pulled a muscle. We ended up having to put him back out again.

“He has been at the farm and done about four months around the hills. He seems really happy in himself and has been going along well.

“He is a horse that probably needed a refreshen. He had a brilliant three-year-old season and then lost his way a little bit, which can happen.

“We are under no illusion that it (farmwork) will work, but we are hoping.”

Thurlow doesn’t have any set plans in place for Sherwood Forest, but said he will focus on staying contests with the gelding.

“We will just play it by ear,” he said. “He will probably have another trial and we will try and get him really fit and then probably kick him off over a distance that he enjoys.

“Last year we put him over a couple of miles in some pretty hot races and that wasn’t his go. They were going a bit quick for him, so he will probably start over 2000m somewhere.

“They are not easy to place when they are so high up in the handicap.”

Meanwhile, Thurlow said his exciting jumper Whiskey Tango has enjoyed a quick freshen-up after he found the heavy ground too taxing at Te Rapa last start and was pulled up.

“He had a week in a good paddock and seems to have freshened up well,” he said.

“We couldn’t fault him or find anything wrong with him. I don’t think he likes the really heavy ground and it was pretty heavy up there that day.

“We will just push on and he will more than likely stick around locally.

“He has got his whole life ahead of him as a jumper, but he will have another run or two this year and that will be it for him (this preparation) I would say.”

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