IN Racing
Astron making his mark for Cole family
Matamata trainer Cody Cole is hopeful he can take his father’s horse Astron into stakes company next season.
NZ Racing Desk | March 13, 2023
Photo: Trish Dunell

Matamata trainer Cody Cole is hopeful he can take his father’s horse Astron into stakes company next season.

The four-year-old son of Redwood scored a convincing victory over a decent Rating 65 field over 1600m at Pukekohe last Saturday, coming from well back in the hands of Craig Grylls to score an easy 2-3/4-length victory over Extraordinaire.

“We’ve always had a bit of time for him,” Cole said.

“He took a while to come to it but he’s starting to pick things up now and put it together.”

It was the second win in six raceday starts for Astron, who was bred and is part-owned by Cole’s father, former trainer Tony Cole.

Cole said his father didn’t breed many horses but he made an exception with Astron’s dam Penumbra.

“She was sold as a broodmare but that fell through. Dad ended up with her somehow and raced her and she won a few races for him,” Cole said.

“He always had a bit of a soft spot for her so he bred her for a few years.”

Penumbra has proved to be a good producer. Her first foal Project won four races, while her second foal Dashper, a full brother to Astron, won three times.

“Dashper was quite a nice horse, but Astron has a bit more X-factor to him,” Cole said.

“He bled at his first start when going down by a nose. Fortunately that seems to be under control, and though there have been a couple of offers, Dad wanted to race him and have a bit of fun.”

Tony Cole trained for a long time from Te Kauwhata but is now retired and living on the Coromandel Peninsula.

“He’s just living the good life, which he deserves to, because he’s worked very hard,” Cody Cole said.

“He’s got a boat and keeps himself busy. He finds odd jobs to do throughout the week. I only really see him when the horses are racing,” Cole said.

“Fortunately he wasn’t too badly impacted by the bad weather up there. He was stuck in there for a few days but was able to get out for the yearling sales and had a good time there.”

Astron is likely to race once more this season, possibly in a Rating 75 1600m contest at Awapuni on April 1, and is likely to return in late spring.

“I think he will eventually run 2000m. He seems to switch off in a race quite well and he has a quick, efficient action which means he covers the ground pretty quickly,” Cole said.

“I think he could be a black-type horse. He’s obviously going to have to make some improvement between now and then, but I’d like to think in 12 months he’s going to be a better horse for it.

“He’s a top of the ground horse so we’ll probably look at racing him through the summer next season.”

Cole is enjoying his best season to date, with Astron’s victory taking his season tally to 17, equal to his previous best, with four and a half months of the season remaining.

He hasn’t had a black-type success as yet this season, though he hopes it can change when valuable mare Aquaoir kicks off her autumn campaign in the Gr.3 Wentwood Grange Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday.

“The way she trialled and has been working she could run a very nice mile fresh,” Cole said.

“It will be a good spot for her to start. She’ll need to get over ground after Saturday. She was placed in the Hawke’s Bay Cup (Listed, 2200m) last year and we’ll probably look at that again.”

Before then, Cole has five runners scheduled to run at Matamata on Wednesday: Chloe’s Comet and Excelsior in a 1050m maiden, Cadeau and The Bizzness in a Rating 65 1200m contest, and Savage Katie in a 2000m maiden.

“Excelsior has shown a lot when trialling but has been a touch disappointing on raceday, so we’re hoping she’ll be a bit better after a break and going to use this race like a trial. She will come on for the run, however, whereas Chloe’s Comet is more forward and if she can run in the first five I’ll be happy. I can’t split them on their work,” Cole said.

“The Bizzness has run two great races, and though she’s got a stronger field on Wednesday, she should run well, while Cadeau has had a difficult preparation but is better than her recent form suggests.

“Savage Katie ran well at Manawatu last start. There’s a couple that might be hard to beat but if she runs to her last start form she’s a top three chance.”

Aquaoir Astron Cadeau Chloe’s Comet Cody Cole Craig Grylls Dashper Extraordinaire Gr.3 Wentwood Grange Cuddle Stakes Hawke’s Bay Cup Matamata Penumbra Pukekohe Redwood Savage Katie Te Kauwhata The Bizzness Tony Cole