Bur­gundy show­ing good form

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Ja­son Bridg­man is count­ing the days to the first three-year-old clas­sic of the sea­son, the Sothys New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Ric­car­ton on Novem­ber 5.

As the trainer of Bur­gundy, the hot favourite for the $400,000 fea­ture, Ja­son could be ex­cused some ner­vous­ness but the re­al­ity is that he’s keenly an­tic­i­pat­ing the op­por­tu­nity for what he and oth­ers in his trade love do­ing best, train­ing big win­ners.

Bur­gundy has been mak­ing head­lines since he was knocked down for $1.3 mil­lion to Te Akau Rac­ing prin­ci­pal David El­lis at the Karaka year­ling sales in early 2010. He made his long awaited de­but at Taupo in mid-Septem­ber and won eas­ily, then re­turned to the same track three weeks later for a re­peat per­for­mance.

Last Sun­day was the big test, how­ever, when he stepped up to stakes com­pany at Ric­car­ton in what would be his dress re­hearsal for the New Zealand 2000 Guineas. It was more of the same from the hand­some colt as he led through­out and left his ri­vals in his wake.

That per­for­mance over the same 1600 me­tres as the Novem­ber 5 clas­sic has Bur­gundy the hot favourite at $1.90 in the TAB’s fixed odds mar­ket for the 2000 Guineas. As well as car­ry­ing the hopes of pun­ters, he will be out to em­u­late former Te Akau win­ners King’s Chapel in 2003, Darci Brahma (2005) and Tell A Tale in 2008.

Be­ing a brother to Darci Brahma is no guar­an­tee of suc­cess but Sun­day’s win left no doubts that Bur­gundy is the real deal as he com­pletely dom­i­nated his op­po­si­tion. Some might query whether his fron­trun­ning style is con­ducive to win­ning races at the high­est level but Ja­son Bridg­man, for one, has no such qualms.

‘‘The way they run races in this part of the world you’re tak­ing a lot of the luck out of the equa­tion if you can set your own terms in front,’’ he rea­sons. ‘‘By the same to­ken you can’t deny his en­thu­si­asm, he wants to get out and race and he’s grow­ing in con­fi­dence ev­ery time he goes to the races.’’

Ja­son isn’t con­vinced that Bur­gundy has to lead and along with sta­ble rider Matt Cameron would be just as happy if an­other run­ner was pre­pared to take that role off him.

‘‘He hits the ground run­ning but then re­laxes, so that helps him to have some­thing up his sleeve for the se­ri­ous part of the race. If some­thing else wanted to lead I’m quite con­fi­dent that Matt wouldn’t have to fight him to take a trail.’’

Con­nec­tions had con­sid­ered scratch­ing Bur­gundy when heavy rain in Can­ter­bury last week soft­ened the Ric­car­ton track but luck­ily there was good dry­ing and the race morn­ing de­ci­sion to start was made.

‘‘That ground was on the bor­der line but the race fit­ted in with his pro­gramme,’’ said Ja­son. ‘‘All we want now is a clean run to Satur­day week and fine weather.’’

Bur­gundy isn’t the only colt set to wear the Te Akau tan­ger­ine and blue colours in the Ric­car­ton clas­sic. Fel­low seven-fig­ure year­ling Rock ’n’ Pop – a son of New Zealand Derby win­ner Popsy – has shaped up well enough in his three starts to date to war­rant a start. Sent south to Te Akau’s Ran­giora satel­lite ear­lier than his sta­ble­mate, he won his de­but at Ric­car­ton in midSeptem­ber and has been beaten nar­rowly by Can­ter­bury’s two best res­i­dent three year olds Planet Rock and Shuka in his two starts since.

‘‘He would have won his last start but for get­ting lost and rac­ing greenly short of the fin­ish,’’ said his trainer. ‘‘ He might be my sec­ond string run­ner but he’s still not a bad one.’’

Ja­son is en­joy­ing his sec­ond sea­son at Te Akau since tak­ing over in Au­gust last year from Mark Walker, who now runs the op­er­a­tion’s Sin­ga­pore sta­ble.

‘‘It was a big step up for me and af­ter a year or so I’m more com­fort­able in the role, I’ve got more of a han­dle on it,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a con­fi­dence thing and it’s good to see the re­sults we’re get­ting.’’

Ja­son scraped into last sea­son’s pre­mier­ship top 10 with 47 wins and near­ing the end of the first three months of the 2011-12 sea­son he’s happy to be sit­ting third with 16 wins. The cur­rent ta­ble top­per is Mata­mata’s other trainer with a South Is­land satel­lite sta­ble, John Sar­gent.

Af­ter fill­ing the run­ner-up po­si­tion in the past two sea­sons, he’s mak­ing a good fist of achiev­ing his am­bi­tion to go one bet­ter. With 23 wins af­ter Sun­day’s rac­ing, he has es­tab­lished a five-win break over early sea­son leader Kevin My­ers.

John won races at Eller­slie on Satur­day and Ric­car­ton on Sun­day, open­ing his ac­count with the promis­ing but in­jury­plagued mare Si­rani and adding the twoyear-old event at Ric­car­ton with Saatchi.

Si­rani, a $270,000 Karaka year­ling pur­chase and by boom north­ern hemi­sphere sire Galileo, looked very promis­ing when win­ning at Eller­slie as a mid-sea­son three year old but suf­fered an in­jury soon af­ter­wards and again shortly af­ter re­turn­ing last au­tumn. Satur­day’s 2400-me­tre race was only her third this spring but she stamped her cre­den­tials for some­thing a lot big­ger when Vin­nie Col­gan brought her from last for a de­ci­sive win.

Saatchi, who cost his own­ers Dan­ica and Gail Guy only $7500 as a wean­ling, has a per­fect record in his ca­reer to date. Af­ter win­ning a trial at Te Teko in early Au­gust he was sent to the Sar­gent sta­ble at Ric­car­ton and two runs on his ‘‘home’’ track have pro­duced two wins.

This Fri­day’s Mata­mata race meet­ing will have spe­cial mean­ing as it marks the an­niver­sary of the death last Oc­to­ber of pop­u­lar lo­cal sta­ble hand Blair Busby.

Blair died af­ter an ac­ci­dent in the sta­bling area at Hast­ings race­course on Kelt Cap­i­tal Stakes race­day. At the time he was em­ployed at Te Akau Rac­ing af­ter hav­ing ear­lier worked at Bal­ly­more Sta­bles. Dur­ing sev­eral years in Mata­mata, Taranaki-born Blair had be­come a very pop­u­lar mem­ber of the lo­cal rac­ing com­mu­nity and his death was keenly felt by many.

On the ini­tia­tive of Sir Pa­trick and Jus­tine Lady Ho­gan, Blair will be re­mem­bered with Fri­day’s race meet­ing la­belled Blair Busby Me­mo­rial Race­day. The fea­ture race will be named the Blair Busby Me­mo­rial Plate, com­plete with tro­phies for the win­ning con­nec­tions do­nated by Sir Pa­trick and Lady Ho­gan.

Given Blair’s role as a strap­per and sta­ble hand, all races on the pro­gramme will carry prizes for the strap­per of the win­ner, while a bar­be­cue will pro­vide food and non-al­co­holic drinks for li­censed sta­ble hands work­ing on the day.

Hon­oured: Former Mata­mata sta­ble hand Blair Busby, who will be re­mem­bered at Fri­day’s Blair Busby Me­mo­rial Race­day.

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