Plans for Xtrav­a­gant un­al­tered

Matamata Chronicle - - What’s On - DENNIS RYAN

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.

PHOTO: NZ RAC­ING DESK

New Zealand Derby favourite Scru­ti­nize will take another step to the clas­sic at Eller­slie on Sun­day.

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