Plans for Xtravagant unaltered
An Australian campaign remains firmly on the agenda for glamour colt Xtravagant despite his surprise defeat in the Levin Stakes at Trentham last Saturday.
The New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner was backed as if unbeatable in the Group One 1600-metre contest, only to be tripped up by a track that had deteriorated badly when light showers set in. After flying the gates and then being taken on through the middle stages, his acceleration was notably absent when rider Matt Cameron asked him to quicken in the home straight and he had to settle for fourth place.
But while defeat wasn’t what connections would have been wanting, that hasn’t altered plans for Xtravagant to be aimed at big races across the Tasman.
‘‘We went down there looking for another win but it wasn’t to be,’’ said co-trainer Stephen Autridge. ‘‘It’s not all doom and gloom though – he stall ran fourth in a Group One.
‘‘Now that he’s home everything seems to be fine with him, so it looks like we can only blame the track. He’s a top of the ground sort of horse; he needs it firm to be able to run like he does.’’
Stephen and his training partner Jamie Richards have time on their side to prepare the Pentire colt for his next assignment, the Gr. 1 NRM Sprint at Te Rapa on February 13. ‘‘The beauty of that race is it’s left-handed, it’s weightfor-age and it’s just down the road.’’ Stephen added. ‘‘With the time between races 1400 metres should suit him perfectly.
‘‘Provided he runs up expectations there, he’ll heading to Melbourne. ‘‘
The Te Akau Racing string also includes the ruling favourite for the New Zealand Derby, Savabeel colt Scrutinize, who remains the $10 first fancy despite his below-par run on unsuitable ground at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. to be
He will return north for the Karaka 3YO Mile on Sunday, followed by the Waikato Guineas on February 6 and the Avondale Guineas a fortnight out from the $750,000 classic at Ellerslie on March 5.
Fellow three-year-old stablemate Zambezi Warrior lodged his Derby claim when he cleared maiden grade on his home track last Friday. Bred on the potent Pentire-Zabeel cross, he was having just his third raceday start as he hinted strongly at his potential with an impressive win over 1600 metres.
‘‘We’ve always like this horse and he did win well,’’ said Stephen Autridge. ‘‘He’ll go to one of the twilight meetings coming up at Ellerslie to get a look around the track and we’ll take it from there.
‘‘Everything he does says he’ll just love a trip, so provided he can go on with it he’s definitely in the mix for the Derby.’’
While this weekend’s Wellington Cup meeting and the Karaka Million twilight extravaganza will be the racetrack focus, all other roads in the days ahead will lead to New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka sales complex.
Monday is the opening day of the 2016 National Yearling Sale Series, with major participation by local breeders like Waikato Stud, Rich Hill, Blandford Lodge, Westbury Stud, Valachi Downs, Mapperley Stud, Bradbury Park and Kilgravin Lodge.
Tried and true sire names such as O’Reilly, Savabeel, Pentire and Pins will again be to the fore, while interesting additions will be the first crop debut by the progeny of local stallions Ocean Park, He’s Remarkable and Rock ‘N’ Pop.
New Zealand Derby favourite Scrutinize will take another step to the classic at Ellerslie on Sunday.