Stewart hunts Waimate Cup hat-trick

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  • June 12, 2023
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Timaru trainer Leonard Stewart has his sights set on a third straight Dunstan Feeds Waimate Cup (1600m) on his home track on Sunday.

The 90-year-old horseman produced Take The Deel to win the 2021 edition and Vague to win the Phar Lap Raceway feature last year.

He goes into Sunday’s race with three runners – Take The Deel, Sympathique and Zadane – as he seeks to complete his hat-trick.

“We’re going to try anyway,” Stewart said.

“Both Take The Deel and Vague were very well ridden and they responded best. It’s just been a suitable race for us.

“We’ve got horses ready for a mile and at this time of the year generally the Washdyke track, because it’s such a good-draining track, is very good to race on.”

The Timaru track was rated a Soft5 on Thursday and with no rain forecast in the coming days, the Waimate Cup could yet be run on good footing.

Stewart rated Take The Deel as the pick of his trio, the Dundeel seven-year-old having won the 2021 race on a heavy track but with a record of two good track wins to his credit.

Take The Deel returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since his Waimate Cup win when he scored on a heavy track at Invercargill last month, success that proved he was back to his best after a long injury layoff.

“Eighteen months ago when he got third in the Gore Cup, he got galloped on and ended up with a hole in his tendon sheath,” Stewart said.

“He went out for a long spell and he did pretty well so it took a lot to bring him back and to get his confidence back to let down.

“He’s full of himself again now and I think he’s right back to his best. He’s doing everything right. We’ve changed his training a bit to bring him back to a mile and he’s going well.”

Stewart has plenty of time for both Tavistock gelding Zadane and Postponed mare Sympathique.

“They are both honest horses and they’ve got good finishes, but they’ve got to be held up for one run,” he said.

“You look at Zadane and his bloodlines and what he’s shown so far, if he gets held up and brought for that one run, he can be dangerous. But my opinion is they might not be able to handle Take The Deel over that last furlong.”

Stewart’s grand-daughter and assistant trainer Lacy Stewart owns Sympathique outright and shares in the ownership of both Take The Deel and Zadane.

The stable has 17 in work, with 14 of them slated to race on Sunday.

The others are Destiny’s Purpose, Snorkel, Aorangi Assassin, Miss Harley Quinn, Diamond Riviere, Morrie, Nellie Grey, Miss Miranda, Play The Field, and Extrememiss.

“I do like Snorkel. He’s a very well-bred horse and he’s going well,” Stewart said.

“Miss Miranda is still away from her best but she’s going very well and what’s she doing now is just on raw ability.”

While he is in a rare club of nonagenarian trainers, Stewart said he has no plans to slow down any time soon or take up any alternative sporting pursuits.

“I’ve tried golf but I keep losing too many golf balls,” Stewart said.

“I’ve got very good help from my grand-daughter Lacy. She’s a really good person. She works hard and reads a horse well and we’ve got a good team working with us.

“I love the horses and Lacy loves them, so as long as we can keep doing this, we will.”

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