Eptimum returns from long lay-off

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  • February 12, 2024
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By Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Nine-race winner Eptimum will make his first start in close to a year when he lines up in Saturday’s $50,000 C S Stevens Memorial Banks Peninsula Cup (1100m) at Riccarton.

The well-travelled son of Snitzel was a Group Three winner at Moonee Valley as a spring three-year-old, then finished midfield in Merchant Navy’s Gr.1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington. He later had an unsuccessful stint in Hong Kong before finding his way to the Rangiora stable of John Blackadder.

The change of scenery worked wonders for the gelding, who has since won six races in New Zealand.

He had a particularly strong campaign as an eight-year-old last season, winning races at Riccarton, Wingatui and Ascot Park along with a close fourth behind Buoyant in the Listed Hazlett Stakes (1200m) at Wingatui. He also finished seventh in the Gr.3 Stewards’ Stakes (1200m).

But his productive season came to an abrupt halt after his fourth in a 1400m race at Riccarton on March 25.

“He sprained a ligament, which couldn’t have happened at a worse time really,” said Blackadder, who also shares in the ownership of Eptimum. “He was really flying in that campaign and it was the best we’d had him. Being an older horse as well, it was quite unfortunate timing.

“We put him out for nine months. It was a good, long break and he put a bit of condition on – like his trainer! But he’s coming along well now in this new preparation.

“We gave him a nice, quiet trial at Ashburton the other day to help get him ready. He’s running over 1100m on Saturday and I think this race will improve him a lot. Then we’ll have a look at Wingatui on March 2, where there’s a $50,000 race over 1200m that I think will be a good race to target with him.

“He’s a lovely old horse and a pleasure to have in the stable.”

Blackadder’s team at Riccarton on Saturday also includes Star Formula in the Alistair Gray Memorial Maiden (1400m).

The three-year-old gelding races in the colours of prominent industry supporter Terry Lines and was a placegetter at Riccarton on January 18 in his only start to date. Dropping back to 12th among a field of 16, he produced an eye-catching finish into third, beaten by a half-neck and a neck by Mogul and Movie Girl.

“He ran a huge race first-up,” Blackadder said. “I was going to run him over 1200m again on Saturday, but it’s looking like it will be quite a fast track at Riccarton. It’s probably going to suit him better to step up to the 1400m.

“There’s not all that many horses by Super One in New Zealand, and he’s out of a Zoustar mare, so he’s an interesting horse. I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes on Saturday.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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