Group Three performer Justacanta has joined Patrick Payne’s Plumpton barn ahead of a Melbourne spring preparation.
Formerly trained in New Zealand by Shaun and Emma Clotworthy, the decision was made over the COVID-19 enforced lockdown to send the eight-year-old across the Tasman.
“He is just looking for some opportunities. He has got up a bit in the ratings in New Zealand,” Shaun Clotworthy said.
“He is limited in New Zealand and one of the owners has had horses with Patrick before so they decided to send him over and see if he can measure up over there.”
The Per Incanto gelding has settled in well into his new environment and is set to have his first test at Moonee Valley on Saturday over 1200m.
“He is in this Saturday in the Chautauqua Stakes at Moonee Valley, but whether he runs there I am not quite sure,” Clotworthy said.
“Paddy was pretty happy with him when I spoke with him yesterday, he arrived in good order.
“There is a bit of rain forecast for today and tomorrow so he may run.”
While confident of a good showing on Saturday, Clotworthy said he will appreciate more ground.
“Once he gets out to 1400m and a mile he will start to get a bit more competitive,” he said.
Back in New Zealand, the Clotworthys are looking forward to having a handful of runners racing in Waikato this weekend, although the South Auckland trainers will be unable to be present due to the COVID-19 enforced border restrictions.
While it has made the logistics a bit difficult, the couple are just happy to be back racing.
“It is difficult,” Clotworthy said. “We have got to send the horses down and get people to saddle them down there, but racing is back, that’s the positive thing.”
Clotworthy will have two runners at Te Rapa on Saturday including New Dawn in the War Decree 1200 and Taumalolo in the Farewell And Thank You Michael O’Toole Mile (1600m).
“I have been happy with New Dawn,” Clotworthy said. “We have had her for her last three starts and she won her second start at Ruakaka and I was happy with her next race.
“She has worked well since her last race and back down to 65 company she can be competitive, even from the wide draw (16).
“Taumalolo has had a little bit of a freshen-up so we will just see where he is at. He is a big striding horse who is looking for more ground.”
Clotworthy will have a trio of runners at Te Aroha on Sunday, with Delegate and Arite Guru readying for feature jumps assignments.
Delegate has placed in all three of his steeplechase starts and Clotworthy is hoping he can break his maiden this weekend ahead of the Pakuranga Hunt Cup (4900m) and Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m).
“Delegate has been consistent and hopefully he can get that steeplechase win on Sunday,” Clotworthy said.
“He seems to be fitter. The idea is to get him to the Great Northern, so he needs to win on Sunday and go well at Pakuranga and then into the Great Northern.
“It would be great to have a runner in the finale over the Ellerslie Hill.”
Stablemate Arite Guru will also have a fitness run in the Thank You Te Aroha Staff 2200 ahead of his feature targets in the coming month.
“Arite Guru is off an enforced break. He gave his leg a little bit of a whack after he won the Ken Browne Hurdle. He had a couple of weeks off and then he has been in the swimming pool,” Clotworthy said.
“He is a tough horse but just lacks a bit of race fitness at the moment. Hopefully he will go nice enough on Sunday and then onwards to the Pakuranga Hurdles and the Great Northern Hurdle.”
Gnasher will round out the Byerley Park stable’s representatives this weekend in the Te Aroha Supporters Club 1400.
“Gnasher went nice enough last time,” Clotworthy said. “With the tracks firming up it will be interesting with him.”