Local Opaki mare Ruby Rocks put her best foot forward as she dominated the closing stages when taking out the TAB Bonus Back Wairarapa Cup (2050m) at Tauherenikau on Tuesday.

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  • Local Opaki mare Ruby Rocks put her best foot forward as she dominated the closing stages when taking out the TAB Bonus Back Wairarapa Cup (2050m) at Tauherenikau on Tuesday.
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  • February 08, 2024
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By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Wexford Stables have enjoyed a myriad of success in the three-year-old age group ranks this season but will turn to an exciting juvenile prospect in Zelezniak on Wednesday in pursuit of home-track success.

Andrew Scott, who trains in partnership with Lance O’Sullivan, prepared the Hellbent colt to an eye-catching trial win at Taupo in late January, and will present him on debut in the C W Cole Racing (1100m) under Craig Grylls.

“His educational trials have been very encouraging, he continues to work on really well and he’s certainly a focussed colt,” he said.

Although optimistic about his chances on Wednesday, Scott is mindful of the importance a positive raceday experience for the longevity of their two-year-olds.

“The main thing with our two-year-olds that we are apprehensive about is them clearing the barriers well,” he said. “It’s so important for them to have a confidence-building experience where they learn to enjoy it and learn to hit the line.

“We’ll certainly be taking that approach on Wednesday with Zelezniak, but we do think he’s a horse with a good load of ability and talent.”

The Matamata stable will prepare a further eight runners at the meeting, including Asterix, who continues his preparation towards a tilt at the Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on March 9.

Asterix provided the stable with their second successive Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at just his fourth start two years ago and also finished fourth in last season’s Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2050m). The lightly-raced son of Tavistock will contest the ICIB Brokerweb (2070m), a final conditioning run before lining-up in the Gr.2 Eagle Technology Avondale Cup (2400m) 10 days later.

“He’s had two nice conditioning runs over the mile, both that we’ve been pleased with. He lacked a bit of luck last time, but in his fresh-up run he closed really well to the line,” Scott said.

“Up to 2000m is a bit more suitable for him, there’s still a fair bit of improvement to come post-Wednesday but he’s certainly getting closer to his peak fitness, which should see him be spot-on for the Avondale Cup.

“He’s drawn out wide (10) so he may have to settle back, but he’ll certainly be running on. We couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s coming to hand.”

Smokeshow broke through for a deserved maiden victory last-start at the course and will partner with regular rider Joe Doyle in the Richardson Racing Stables (1400m).

“He had his best experience at the races thus far last time out and ran really well, he took a good load of confidence from that,” Scott said. “He does have a tendency to be slightly wayward, but the trackwork riders have said he’s becoming more settled in his work since that win.

“He’s drawn a nice barrier (3) so he’ll have the opportunity for a nice run, we’re respectful of the opposition in a strong 65 but he should show a strong turn-of-foot in the finish and he’s in good form.”

Looking to post his first raceday success is Trump Card in the Majestic Horse Floats (2000m), a promising stayer Scott has regarded highly in his three starts to date.

“We’ve been pleased with his progression around the mile, and his last run really indicated he’s looking for further now,” he said.

“On his home track, over the 2000m with a slightly better draw (7), should see him be very competitive on Wednesday. He’s certainly one of our better winning chances on the day.”

Grylls will partner the son of Ace High, while stablemate Wolf Rayet will be tasked with a tough outside draw in the same event under Masa Hashizume.

“His last run was really good, he came home well from the back. But he’s been plagued with bad barriers, which has made it hard for him to be in a competitive place in the race turning for home.

“He’s dealing with that again on Wednesday, he’s obviously going to be in the second half of the field so hopefully there will be a good load of speed up-front to set it up for the backmarkers. If he gets any luck from that gate, he’ll be right there in the finish.

Wexford will have a further two three-year-old representatives on debut in Baggio and Varallo in the Te Akau Racing Stable (1400m), while in-form pair Let It Ride and Ever Charm will go head-to-head attempting to claim the stables’ named event in the Wexford Stables (1600m).

“Baggio and Varallo are both promising young staying horses that we’ve been patient with,” Scott said.

“Varallo looks to be the better chance of the two based off his trials and the way he’s worked in, he’s certainly taken things to another level and should be a strong chance, but Baggio’s trial at Taupo was good, he hit the line well late, and we do expect him to be running on well.

“Let It Ride was just caught in the shadows of the post last time, he’s another that took a good bit of confidence and fitness from the race.

“Ever Charm just got slightly interfered with when going to run into the placings last time out, he had been away from the races for a while so he’ll be close to a winning chance on Wednesday with further fitness under his belt.” – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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