Bren­nan de­vel­op­ing fire­power

Cam­bridge trainer’s string gear­ing up for Group cam­paigns

The New Zealand Herald - - Sport -

Cam­bridge trainer Lau­ren Bren­nan is in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of hav­ing three­quar­ters of her rac­ing team on tar­get for com­ing Group races. Bren­nan has 19 horses in work, the ma­jor­ity be­ing pre-trained for Sin­ga­pore, and three of the four she is cur­rently pre­par­ing for the lo­cal scene have passed the ini­tial tests to be set for black-type mis­sions.

Mag­num, a last-start fourth to On The Rocks in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Eller­slie on New Year’s Day, will start the ball rolling this Sat­ur­day when he lines up in the Group 1 Har­courts Thorn­don Mile (1600m) at Tren­tham, while Vigor Win­ner and Sword In Stone make up Bren­nan’s black-type squad.

Vigor Win­ner, an im­pres­sive de­but win­ner over 1200m at Hast­ings on New Year’s Day, is be­ing con­sid­ered for a tilt at the Group 3 Mon­go­lian Khan Tro­phy (1200m) at Eller­slie on Jan­uary 26 and Sword In Stone will take the next step to­ward a pos­si­ble tilt at the Group 1 Voda­fone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Eller­slie on March 2 with a start in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on Fe­bru­ary 9.

Mag­num has had two wins and four plac­ings from eight starts since re­turn­ing from Sin­ga­pore, where he reg­is­tered four wins and was five times Stakes placed.

His Rich Hill Mile per­for­mance fol­lowed a close sec­ond on an un­suit­able wet track at Te Rapa last month and Bren­nan said she couldn’t be hap­pier with the Per In­canto six-yearold.

“I’m very happy with his progress since the Rich Hill and Matt (Cameron) wants to stick with him which is a boost,” she said.

Sword In Stone was added to Bren­nan’s ar­tillery fol­low­ing his huge ef­fort to quit maiden ranks sec­ondup over 1600m at Eller­slie on Sun­day.

“He’s nom­i­nated for the Derby and he’ll take an­other step for­ward on to it in the Waikato Guineas,” Bren­nan said. “If he runs well in that we’ll press on for the Derby.

“He’s bred to stay and he’s got a good turn of foot. I think he’ll be a nice 2000m to 2400m horse.”

The Red­wood 3-year-old had won his two tri­als for Bren­nan and fin­ished a close sec­ond be­hind Lite My Ci­gar on de­but at Te Rapa last month.

On the strength of that Te Rapa ef­fort he was favourite on Sun­day, but he had to be ex­tra good to win after he dwelt at the start and set­tled in the rear group.

“It didn’t go to plan,” Bren­nan said. “We thought maybe he’d be fourth or fifth, but he didn’t break (from the bar­rier) as well as usual and Shaun (McKay) had to sit back and ride him pa­tiently.”

Sword In Stone inched closer ap­proach­ing the home turn then was mo­men­tar­ily held up at the top of the straight. Once clear and bal­anced, he flashed home through the cen­tre to win by a length and a quar­ter with McKay easy on him in­side the last 50m.

Sword In Stone was a $33,000 grad­u­ate from Brad­bury Park’s draft at the 2017 New Zealand Blood­stock Select Year­ling Sale when bought by Sin­ga­pore-based trainer Stephen Gray on be­half of his Sin­ga­pore owner, Paul Hick­man.

“Stephen trains for Paul in Sin­ga­pore and we pre-train most of Paul’s horses,” Bren­nan said.

“We had English Gam­bler for him be­fore he went over to Dar­ren Weir in Aus­tralia.”

English Gam­bler recorded two wins and four sec­onds from six starts from Bren­nan’s stable and now Sword In Stone looks an ex­cit­ing re­place­ment in Bren­nan’s team.

Vigor Win­ner, a son of Dec­la­ra­tion Of War, has also looked spe­cial. He is un­beaten in three pub­lic ap­pear­ances, hav­ing won two tri­als be­fore cruis­ing home by three and a half lengths on de­but at Hast­ings.

“He’s Hong Kong-owned but has his is­sues,” Bren­nan said. “He’s failed the vet a few times. That’s why he’s stay­ing here.

“He’s smart, but he’s a work in progress and I want to space his races. I also orig­i­nally trained his mother, Savont, and she was a bit quirky, too.”

Savont, a daugh­ter of Ex­ceed And Ex­cel, won two sprints and is a grand­daugh­ter of Palia, whose four wins in­cluded the Group 3 AJC Eman­ci­pa­tion Stakes (1500m).

Vigor Win­ner was bought from the 2017 Ready To Run Sale at Karaka from the Re­gal Farm draft for $50,000.

He’s bred to stay and he’s got a good turn of foot. Lau­ren Bren­nan

Photo / Tr­ish Dunell

The Thorn­don Mile at Tren­tham is next for Sword In Stone.

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