IN Racing
Asterix to commence Cup journey at Te Rapa
“He’s coming up very well, his trial was very encouraging and he trialled in a manner that suggests he’s got good confidence and striding out in his movement."
Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | December 20, 2023
Asterix will kick-off his preparation in the Print House Mile (1600m) at Te Rapa on Saturday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

A huge festive period of racing awaits Wexford Stables, and Christmas has come early for Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott with the exciting return of Asterix headlining their team on Saturday at Te Rapa.

The son of Tavistock made waves in claiming the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in his fourth raceday appearance last March, and despite battling hoof and lameness issues since, has recorded another Open-class victory and a fourth behind Prowess in the Gr.1 Bonecrusher Stakes (2050m).

Coming off a 266 raceday hiatus since an unplaced run at Group Two level in Sydney, Asterix will contest the Print House Mile (1600m) at Te Rapa following a comfortable 1150m trial performance at Te Awamutu, with Niranjan Parmar taking one-kilogram off his 58kg allotted weight.

“We’re just excited to get him back on the racecourse,” Scott said.

“He’s coming up very well, his trial was very encouraging and he trialled in a manner that suggests he’s got good confidence and striding out in his movement.

“We’ve been pleased with his work leading in, there’s some improvement to come in his fitness and he generally takes a run or two before he starts to hit his straps, so we see no reason that will change.”

The re-opening of the Ellerslie Racecourse presents the five-year-old with an opportunity to emulate his Derby-winning performance at the track this campaign, with Scott indicating the ultimate goal to be the Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m).

Asterix also holds elite-level nominations for the Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) and Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m), ahead of the Cup on March 9.

“We’re hoping to aim him for the Auckland Cup, so it’s all about getting some miles into his legs so when the 2000m races come around he’s got a good base,” Scott said.

Promising staying filly Sax ‘N’ Silks commenced her career with two runner-up performances this preparation, and Jasmine Fawcett will guide the three-year-old for the third occasion in the Waikato/BOP Racehorse Owners Association Mile (1600m).

“She’s been racing well, she’s a filly that is deserving of a win. She does meet a strong field on Saturday, but Jasmine knows her well and she’s fit with a good level of education leading into the race,” Scott said.

“There’s no reason why she can’t produce a similar performance to what she has been, she’s a promising staying filly on the way up.”

After showing her affinity with the Heavy tracks in her three-year-old season with a victory and two minor placings from three starts, Silver Javelin will resume in the Peter R Wilson Memorial (1200m).

“She’s coming up well, she’s had a nice couple of trials to get her fitness up and has drawn well,” Scott said.

“The only question mark is the quicker track, as all of her form has been on softer ground but she’s in for a good prep and there should be a good improvement in fitness post-Saturday.”

A quiet Wexford presence at Te Rapa will be preceded by 13 representatives at Matamata on Friday, which include four debutant runners.

Among the stable’s leading hopes is Smokeshow, the talented gelding likely to benefit from a second-placed performance at Otaki, where he did himself no favours in behind Marotiri Molly, who went back-to-back at Trentham last Saturday.

“The winner of his race has gone on and won again, so that’s quite a strong form reference,” Scott said.

“It was a good educational trip for him away from home, while he still did a little bit wrong in the run so we’ve put a one-eyed blinker on him and we’ve seen improvement in his work with that gear change. We’re hoping the step-up to 1400m, a home-track advantage, and a kind draw will see him finishing well.”

Billy Jacobson will partner the Contributer three-year-old in the Comag (1400m), while Masa Hashizume is booked aboard I’munstoppable in the Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series (1200m), the filly also having her third race-day appearance after two top-four finishes.

“Both of her runs have had good merit, last start she got a little wide and still wanted to over-race a bit, so we believe with the benefit of two runs under her belt she’ll have a bit more ringcraft,” Scott said.

“She’s another that will benefit from going back left-handed on her home track. We’re hoping she can just find a bit more rhythm, giving her a stronger finish.”

Of the four first-starters, Scott indicated three-year-old geldings Trump Card and Alavisto to be ones to follow in future, both contesting the Comag (1400m).

“We have a promising stayer in Trump Card, he’s another progeny of Ace High who is going well. He’ll be hitting the line there well,” he said.

“Alavisto’s trials have been pleasing, he’s going to be better once he gets out over further. Those two are probably the best chances of the first starters.” 

Asterix Sax'N'Silks Tavistock Auckland Cup Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes lance o'sullivan and andrew scott Niranjan Parmar Silver Javelin smokeshow i'munstoppable Trump Card Alavisto Ace High