Japan Trophy a stepping stone for Marsh pair

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  • March 22, 2024
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Japan Trophy a stepping stone for Marsh pair

Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh will use Saturday’s Gr.2 Ultimate Mazda Japan Trophy (1600m) at Tauranga as a springboard towards autumn targets for Skyman and Financier.

Go Racing’s Skyman is taking a step down in class for the $175,000 feature, with all of his three previous New Zealand appearances having come at Group One level. He ran a close fifth in the Thorndon Mile (1600m) in January, then failed to fire in last month’s Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m).

His most recent run was in the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 9, where he was hampered early in the run home but still produced a strong finish into fourth behind his winning stablemate El Vencedor.

Skyman has previously won five races over the 1600m distance of Saturday’s Japan Trophy, including three Listed features in Queensland and New South Wales. But Marsh is keen to step the eight-year-old son of Mukhadram back up over a middle-distance for his next assignment.

“We weren’t always going to run Skyman in this race,” Marsh said. “But it’s worked out that it fits in quite nicely on his road towards the Awapuni Gold Cup (Gr.2, 2100m) down at Trentham in a couple of weeks’ time.

“We’re very happy with him and he can be competitive here, but the main reason for running him is to have him cherry ripe for that Awapuni Gold Cup.”

Skyman will be ridden by Ace Lawson-Carroll and is a $7.50 fourth favourite in the TAB’s Japan Trophy market. Rudyard and Jaarffi share favouritism at $6, with Saint Bathans at $6.50.

Marsh is working backwards from the Gr.3 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m) with Financier, who is having a breakthrough season as a four-year-old.

The son of Tavistock finished fourth in both of his starts as a two-year-old, then collected a maiden win from two appearances at three. But his four-year-old season has produced three wins and four placings from seven starts, including strong performances against the likes of the exciting Jimmysstar, Adam I Am and Japan Trophy rival Jaarffi, along with subsequent stakes winners Burn To Shine and Master Fay.

Marsh also entered Financier for Saturday’s Peter Clarke Bayleys Residential (1400m) in Rating 75 company, where he has been assigned a 61.5kg topweight.

“He’s going really well,” Marsh said. “I thought it was touch and go whether he’d make the Japan Trophy field, so we entered him in the Rating 75 as well in case he missed out on the Group Two.

“He doesn’t get in that well under the set weights and penalties conditions of the Japan Trophy, but the main reason for running him is to give him a lead-up to the Easter Handicap, which we think is a really nice race to target with him.”

Per-Anders Graberg has been booked to ride Financier, who is rated an $11 chance.

Marsh’s other Tauranga runners include promising maiden mare I’m Certain and the comeback galloper Global Currency, who finished ninth at Ellerslie on March 2 in his first appearance since December of 2021.

Marsh also has five runners entered for Saturday’s southern meeting at Riccarton. Under-rated mare Divine Sava will shoot for valuable black type in the Gr.3 Valachi Downs South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m), while promising filly Nikaia makes a big step down in class for the Petersens Jewellers Ladies’ Bracelet Three-Year-Old (1400m) after finishing at the tail of the field following a tough wide run in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m).


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