Prise De Fer hunts breakthrough Group One win

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  • December 01, 2022
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Prise De Fer is zero for 13 in Group One races but a last-start Group Three win has given Matamata trainer Mark Walker reason for optimism ahead of Saturday’s Gr.1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham.

While the Savabeel seven-year-old gelding has yet to win at racing’s elite level, he has twice finished second and three times third, all under weight-for-age conditions which he again encounters on Saturday.

Prise De Fer will race on a seven-day backup for just the third time in his career, with his previous two quick turnarounds resulting in a second placing in last year’s Gr.2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m) and a sixth place finish in this year’s Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings.

Walker felt the quick backup was an advantage for Prise De Fer off his authoritative win in last Saturday’s Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa.

“He’s come through it really well. He was home in his paddock on Saturday night and he was bright as a button on Sunday morning,” Walker said.

“It was really good to see him get another win on board and hopefully that gets his confidence back up heading towards Saturday.

“I’m a firm believer that sometimes with these older horses that haven’t won for a while, a win like that can just give them the confidence to go on with it. His run at Tauranga leading in to that was very good as well.”

A winner of 10 of his 38 starts for career earnings of more than $650,000, Prise De Fer has yet to win on a heavy track, which is Walker’s biggest concern leading into Trentham, which was rated a heavy 8 on Wednesday.

“A lot depends on the weather,” he said. “I saw the news on Sunday night that they’d had some slips down there so they’ve had plenty of rain so it all depends on what happens down there later in the week.”

TAB bookmakers opened Prise De Fer as a $3.30 second favourite behind Aegon at $1.85.

Walker’s other runner at Trentham is Not A Single Doubt filly Believe In Magic, who tackles the Gr.2 Mode Technology Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m).

Believe In Magic burst into contention for feature two-year-old races with a tenacious last-start win at Woodville at just her second start at the beginning of November.

“She worked nicely on Tuesday on the grass which was rain-affected. She’s fit and well and got through the ground well,” Walker said.

“She’s a real professional. She’s not very big but she’s a real pocket-rocket. She’ll run well.”

Safely through Saturday’s race, Walker will give Believe In Magic a look at Pukekohe, either on Boxing Day on January 9, ahead of a tilt at the $1 million Doubletree By Hilton Karaka Million (1200m) at that track on January 21.

Walker will seek stakes success at Pukekohe even sooner with the trio of Lord Cosmos, Skew Wiff and Kabugee tackling Saturday’s Gr.3 Mitchell Family Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) at the Auckland Thoroughbred Racing meeting.

Walker was pleased with all three going into the race but was anxious for good track conditions, with the course rated a slow 6 on Wednesday.

“Skew Wiff worked really well with Kabugee on Tuesday. Their work was on a par,” Walker said.

“A lot really depends on track conditions at Pukekohe. Better conditions for those two will suit. Lord Cosmos has just been held up by wet tracks. He worked really well on Tuesday. I’m happy with him. As long as the track is reasonable all three will head there.”

Walker’s other acceptor at the meeting is last-start winner Elounda in the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Qualifier (1500m). – NZ Racing Desk

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