Focus on in-form home track lover Side Eye

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  • September 26, 2023
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By Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Cambridge trainer Chris Wood will be represented by three runners at his home meeting on the all-weather track on Wednesday with the in-form Side Eye promising to be his best chance.

The six-year-old has won three of his five races on the course and looks well placed to advance that record in the Waipa Earthworks Handicap (1550m).

“He seems to like the poly, although I don’t think he is just restricted to a poly horse,” Wood said.

“He didn’t have much luck at Te Rapa last time out, he got caught off the track and didn’t go a bad race in a pretty handy field.”

Side Eye was trapped three and four wide from an outside barrier and stayed on gamely to finish fifth for regular rider Jessica Allen, who retains the mount.

“He’s drawn nicely and we always used to think he was a bit of a leader, but Jess has got him to settle and find his way home and he’s done that a few times for us,” Wood said.

“He’s got a new pattern of racing and it seems to be suiting him.”

Side Eye was one of two youngsters Wood purchased at the 2019 Scone Yearling Sale.

“Not many can win five and I bought him and (four-time winner) Funtonic at the same time in Australia,” he said.

“He’s lived in the shadow of Funtonic, who unfortunately bowed a tendon and he’s finished, and he’s since jumped out of the shadow for pretty much the same ownership group.”

Wood will also be represented on Wednesday by recent placegetters Rusavy in the Magnum Industries Handicap (1300m) and Lucky Charm in the Cambridge Equine Hospital Maiden (1550m).

“Rusavy is up against quite a nice field, but he raced pretty well on the poly last time. He’s got a good draw so he should end up on the pace,” he said.

“Lucky Charm is starting to settle and find the line and he’s stepping up over a bit more ground so we’ll see what he comes up with.”

Wood is also pleased with the progress of Alfriston, who furthered his preparation on Tuesday when he led all the way to romp home in an open 950m on the polytrack.

Alfriston is a two-time winner and finished fourth behind Pier in last season’s Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.

“We’d like to get back on the winning side of things with him and there’s that new four-year-old mile after Christmas so that’s the obvious plan if he’s going well enough,” Wood said.

He was referring to the inaugural edition of the $1 million Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 27.

Meanwhile, stablemate Canheroc is expected to show his appreciation of a step up in trip this weekend.

“He is heading to Hawke’s Bay on Saturday for the Rating 65 2000m race and I really like him,” Wood said.

“He’s doing things right and, with a bit of luck, should be a big chance.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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