John Bary’s fleeting visit to Christchurch at the weekend to monitor leading filly Best Seller’s progress had the desired outcome.
The whistle-stop venture south provided confirmation to the Hastings trainer that his Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) prospect was in tip-top shape for the challenge ahead.
“She had an exhibition gallop with Guy Lowry’s Shezzacatch at Riccarton on Saturday and everything went really well and I was very happy with her,” Bary said.
“I flew down to watch it and came home that night.”
Best Seller boasts strong form credentials for the Classic following a resuming victory at Taupo and further success in the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) on her home track.
The daughter of Wrote then headed north to Matamata for the rescheduled Gr.2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) to run sixth behind subsequent Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas hero Pier.
“We’ve had no hiccups and everything has gone very smoothly to date and I’m looking forward to this Saturday,” Bary said.
“She isn’t a big gross filly, in saying that she’s not lightly framed either. She is a good size, naturally fit and they are only three-year-olds.
“There is no reason to race them every second week, that’s my style and just the way I train.”
To be ridden again by Sam Spratt, Best Seller is also expected to find the step up to 1600m in her favour.
“The mile on the big track doesn’t worry me at all and I think she is a different horse now,” Bary said.
“She has got a lot more confidence from those couple of wins and I don’t see her over-racing or anything like that.”
He is also confident the filly, who is currently a $5 equal second favourite, will have no trouble handling a better surface at Riccarton.
“It was quite firm the day she ran second in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) and that was no worries to her so I’m not expecting the track to be an issue at all,” Bary said.
“Since the beginning of the season this was the goal for her and everything has gone to plan, apart from having to go to Matamata for the Hawke’s Bay Guineas and other than that everything has been spot on.”
Bary will also be keeping a close eye on a feature event in Melbourne on Saturday with Callsign Mav to step out in the A$500,000 Listed Cranbourne Cup (1600m).
“They are going to put the nose band back on and a tongue tie. At his last start he chocked down a bit,” he said.
“They scoped him and that came back clean as a whistle so back with the nose band on, which I raced him in, we’re hoping it can turn the corner for him. He is very well and they have just got to get him breathing right.”
Part-owner Bary prepared Callsign Mav to win three times at Group One level before he joined the Flemington stable of Danny O’Brien.
He triumphed in the Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in September and most recently finished fifth in the Gr.2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
“He has always flown under the radar and at the end of the day he’s got the results. People have opinions and horses have facts and he’s a four-time Group One winner,” Bary said.
Meanwhile, he will adopt a changed approach with his Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) runner-up Spring Tide, who was unplaced in his last two outings in the Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) and the Gr.3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m).
“I gave him a few weeks off after his last run and set him for an open 1200m race at Wellington on Captain Cook Stakes day (December 3),” Bary said.
“The thing with New Zealand racing is that at any point in time you can be racing on a Slow7 track so the owner is keen for us to have a little play.
“His last two runs haven’t been him and he is a bit better fresh so hopefully this works. If he performs, maybe it will be the Telegraph (Gr.1, 1200m) and hope for a wet day.”
“It is an option because he is so high in the points and getting weighted out of it. We’re having a play and if it works, it works and if not we’ll wait until next winter.”