Dream day for blinkered trainers
way of thinking after a lack-lustre Tuesday morning gallop.
‘‘If you want to keep running second, do nothing,’’ was Bev’s reply to her husband’s fears that such a move would be too risky.
‘‘I was concerned that blinkers would get her fired up and she would over-race,’’ explains Ken. ‘‘The secret to her is to get her into a rhythm, get her breathing right, that’s where Mickey (Coleman) suits her so well. ‘‘In the end Bev won and I’m glad she did.’’
That final decision was left as late as possible and Xanadu wore blinkers for the first time in light exercise on Wednesday, after which they were confirmed for her weekend assignment and worn again when she did stronger work on Thursday.
But before the blinkers were put to their ultimate test, Ken’s mind was distracted by his two earlier runners at Hastings. Zabeel gelding Traveller, who had let the side down at his previous start, got the ball rolling with a solid win in the third race.
He too was aided by a gear change, in his case a crossed noseband that allowed rider Mark Du Plessis greater control of the free-going 5-year-old. That win was four from 13 starts and deepened the belief that a big staying event is within his reach.
Two races later Du Plessis was back in the white and orange colours of major Kelso stable client Gary Harding, this time to ride classy filly Bounding as the odds-on favourite for the Group III Gold Trail Stakes.
Once again it was a case of proving too good for the opposition as the daughter of champion Australian racehorse and sire Lonhro led home fellow Matamata fillies Costa Viva, Fascination Street and Fantastic Honour.
The Gold Trail Stakes was the first leg of the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series, with Bounding’s win the right platform to emulate last season’s series win by Fix for the Kelso-Harding combination. Bounding will follow the same path as Fix, with the Group III James and Annie Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa on Labour weekend her final lead-up to the Group I NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas at Riccarton in November.
Australia is now Xanadu’s target following her second Group I domestic win to go with the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes she won at Te Aroha last autumn. The plan at this stage is to kick her off in the Group II Tristarc Stakes at Caulfield on October 19, followed two weeks later by the Group I Myer Classic at Flemington.
Ken is compelled to describe Saturday as the best single day he and his wife have enjoyed in all their years of training. ‘‘It has to be, we’ve never won two Group races in a day, it’s the sort of day you dream about.
‘‘It’s great to get more good results for Gary and Linda (Harding), they’ve been marvellous supporters of our stable. The other especially pleasing aspect of it was Michael riding the mare (Xanadu).
‘‘She’s never been the easiest to ride but he just gels with her. He hadn’t had it easy either with that fall at Taupo last week. Like the professional he is though, he worked on getting himself back in shape and fronted up to ride her during the week, then got it right on the day.’’
Stunning win: In driving rain that hit the Hastings track minutes beforehand, Michael Coleman brings Xanadu (left) home to down Mufhasa in Saturday’s Windsor Park Plate.