Stewart out in force for local meeting

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  • June 07, 2024
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Stewart out in force for local meeting

Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Veteran Timaru trainer Leonard Stewart is set to feature prominently at his local meeting on Sunday, with 11 runners entered across the nine-race programme at Phar Lap Raceway.

Stewart, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday later this month, has just over 20 horses in work and almost half of them will race on Waimate Cup Day.

That bumper contingent includes a two-pronged attack on the $30,000 Dunstan Horse Feeds Waimate Cup (1600m) with Vague and Zadane.

Eight-year-old mare Vague has won seven races and more than $118,000 in stakes in her 58-race career, and her two wins on her home track include the 2022 edition of this race.

Vague has continued to perform strongly this season with two wins, four placings, a fourth and two fifths from 15 appearances. But her form has tapered off in her last two starts, which Stewart puts down to jarring up on a Good4 surface on April 24.

“It was just a bit too hard for her that day and she jarred up a bit,” he said. “I’ve been happy with what she’s shown me leading into this race. She seems to be working alright and looks nice and free.

“They haven’t had any rain leading into this meeting, but they’re irrigating the track, which will help her.”

Vague will be ridden by Samantha Wynne, with Gosen Jogoo taking the mount on stablemate Zadane. The six-year-old is backing up from a gallant second in Rating 65 company at Wingatui last Sunday.

“He’s improved quite a bit and it was a much better performance the other day,” Stewart said. “It was a bit of a late decision to put him in this race. He’s not a big horse, so it’s not easy for him as he gets up in the weights in his own grade. He gets in quite well here, with a field of only 10 and the topweight (Leitrim Lad) rated 85. He’s not without a chance.”

Sunday’s sprint feature is the $22,000 Bob Goodeve Memorial, which features the Stewart-trained Miss Harley Quinn and Aorangi Assassin.

Miss Harley Quinn has won six races in her 56-start career, and she has a solid record on her home track with two wins and four placings from 14 attempts.

“She goes well at the track,” Stewart said. “She really just wants to jump and run and get on with it, which can cause her problems from time to time. But she has shown on occasions, when there are other speed horses in the race, that you can ease her back and then she finishes strongly. I’m hoping that will work out for her this week. She’s another one that’s been going well in her work.”

Stewart also has a number of chances on Sunday’s undercard, including former North Island filly Lise Paree in the GM Accounting & Consulting Maiden (1200m).

The three-year-old daughter of Iffraaj is making her first start for Stewart. She had four starts in the north for Rudy Liefting, headed by a third at Taupo in October and a fourth behind Tonia’s Dragon and subsequent Group Three winner I’munstoppable at Te Aroha in November.

“We’ve got Lise Paree having her first start for us in the second race on Sunday,” Stewart said. “Looking back through her previous races, she can be a little bit wayward, but I think she’s improved.

“She’s been working well and I’m hoping she can run a big race on Sunday. Bill Jelley has a share in her, and he and his wife haven’t been well lately, so I’d love her to perform well for their sake.

“I think she has the ability, although she will have to work a bit from gate 15.”


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