Dragon Leap ready for Foxbridge challenge

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  • August 28, 2023
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By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott are hoping an improved track and an impressive first-up victory will see their classy galloper Dragon Leap add the Gr.2 Waikato Stud Foxbridge Plate (100m) to his record on Saturday at Te Rapa.

The O’Sullivan/Scott partnership have made a scorching start to the new season, recording four wins from just six race-day starts and their talented gelding currently leads the favouritism with Skew Wiff ($4.80) with TAB bookmakers for the feature event.

The well-travelled seven-year-old has made several trips across the Tasman over his career, and his recent three-start Queensland campaign included a close-up second in the Gr.3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben in May.

Returning to the partnership’s Wexford Stables in Matamata, Dragon Leap returned from a short freshen-up to produce an eye-catching victory at Ruakaka lugging the 62kg top weight, a win that locked in the Foxbridge target.

“We were really pleased to see him quicken on the good ground up at Ruakaka, he often saves one of his best runs for his fresh-up run so we were expecting him to run well and it was so pleasing to see him round off the race in the manner that he did,” co-trainer Scott said.

“He’s come through that race really well, with the three weeks between runs his body weight is only two kilos lighter than he was first-up so he’s really held his weight, and especially when they’re sprinting, you want them feeling good in their condition.

“It certainly gives us a bit of confidence to take on a race like the Foxbridge, because it is certainly quite a step up in class.

“We’ve got improving track conditions tomorrow and that certainly improves his chances, the quicker the track the better chance he’ll quicken.”

A stellar three-year-old, Dragon Leap claimed dominant victories in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) and Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) demonstrating his versatility, but has been lightly-raced over his career while battling with hoof issues.

Contesting the likes of Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Pier and several proven group-level performers including Darci La Bella and Brando, Scott is not underestimating the calibre of competition the son of Pierro will face.

“It’s a good field with up-and-coming horses like Pier, and tough ones like Brando, Skew Wiff and others who are on the way up who will all be primed and ready to go good races,” he said.

“But, we’ve certainly got the benefit of the run under our belt, he’s probably drawn the right gate being out a little bit and he can afford to hopefully get into the clear.

“We’re looking for a strong gallop early in the race, that gives him a good chance so hopefully the track presents well and he can quicken.

“We’re going into the race ever-so-hopeful he’s going to run well, but we’re very respectful of the class of field we meet on Saturday.”

The Wexford team will also be well-represented in the Central Districts on Saturday, with seven-year-old mare Highlighter looking to take a hat-trick of victories in the Manawatu ITM 1200.

A daughter of Shamexpress, Highlighter has been in a purple patch of form of late collecting two straight wins at Te Rapa and heads to the Awapuni venue a likely favourite, assisted by Lemmy Douglas’s three-kilo claim.

“She’s going for three in a row, she’s an ever honest mare who will make a strong account of herself on Saturday,” Scott said.

“She went out to 1400m last time but she didn’t look like she wanted to run much further than that, we think she’s a bit stronger at the six furlongs so we’ve bought her back to the 1200m.”

She’s in good form and when those mares find form they usually hold it so hopefully she can continue.”

Back in the North, Magic Ace, Winexpress and Strathtay complete the O’Sullivan/Scott team of runners at Te Rapa, with the latter tipped by Scott to be the stable’s best winning chance of the day in the Noverre Mile (1600m).

“He’s drawing closer to a win, he was a wee bit unlucky last time and we think he’s going the right way with a gap between runs to freshen him a touch.”

“He’s probably our best winning chance of the day.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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