Dream day for blink­ered train­ers

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport -

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.

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