Promising staying three-year-old Arby will be on trial for an overseas hit and run mission when he steps out at Pukekohe Park on Saturday.
The son of Proisir will attempt to add top honours in the Gr.3 Trelawney Stud Championship Stakes (2100m) to his record after claiming the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) last time out.
Further success for the Darryn and Briar Weatherley-trained Arby will bring a trip to Brisbane for the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) a step closer.
“If he runs as well on Saturday as he did at Manawatu then I would really like to have a throw at the stumps in the Derby in five weeks’ time,” Darryn Weatherley said.
“He wouldn’t have a run leading up to it, this would be his last one, so that’s in the back of my mind. He would have to run up to his Manawatu form though, if he was below par then we wouldn’t consider it.”
Arby was making his middle-distance debut at Awapuni and he finished stoutly to beat Desert Lightning, who will again be a race rival.
“He had been building up to a nice win and, like his half-brother Ess Vee Are, he’s obviously a stayer and it was good run when sixth (in the Gr.1 Levin Classic, 1600m) leading up to the Manawatu race,” Weatherley said.
While Pier grabbed all the spring headlines for the stable, Arby has always been highly rated.
“He showed us plenty early on and won two trials, one on the synthetic and one at Avondale and in that trial was Sharp ‘N’ Smart,” Weatherley said.
“To be fair it may have been a blessing, but he then had a horrible foot issue that we had to deal with and put him in the paddock.
“The other horse Pier was up and going at the time and he went on to win the Hawke’s Bay Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m) and the 2000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m).
“Those races were on the agenda for Arby, but with the foot injury it was put on the backburner. The time hasn’t done him any harm as he’s a big boy and has grown into himself.”
Weatherley’s son Sam will again be aboard Arby and will also team up with stablemate Maria Farina in the Gr.3 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m).
“She has never been a mile so that it is a big question mark, but she is in career best form,” he said.
“Her run the other day for third in the Flying Handicap (Listed, 1400m) was great and Sam got off her and said that would be her best run.
“It would have been nice to draw five or six in her first go at a mile and just land a bit handier. She’s drawn one from the outside so Sam is going to have to make some decisions early and I’d suggest he might have to go back and ride her for luck.”
The stable also has Heart Of Gold in the VRC Trophy Handicap (1500m) with apprentice Triston Moodley booked for the ride.
“All his wins have been on the synthetic, but he has gone good races on the grass as well,” Weatherley said.
“He’s a horse I’ve always thought a bit of, but he does need firm ground and his work on Thursday morning was really good and we’ve got a 4kg claim which helps.”
Meanwhile, Pier is thriving during his time off and will return to work next month and may be back in action at the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.
“I went and saw him on Tuesday and he’s absolutely full of himself,” Weatherley said.
Pier hasn’t raced since he was unplaced in the Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill in February.
“He was a little bit worse for wear when he came back, he pulled a muscle in that race and was sore in behind, but he was jumping, kicking and bucking in the paddock the other day,” Weatherley said.
“He will be back in the middle of May and kick off in the early spring and may end up in Melbourne, his part-owner Ozzie Kheir is quite keen for him to get there so we’ll see how he comes up.”
Meanwhile, Weatherley is also nearing full health after a nasty birdcage incident at Trentham when he was kicked in the upper thigh by his Listed New Zealand St Leger (2600m) winner Ess Vee Are.
“I’m back riding work now and almost 100 percent. I was very lucky the medics were right there and the vet,” he said.
A quick-thinking duty vet nearby removed his tie and applied it as a tourniquet above the wound, before Weatherley received further medical treatment and surgery for a happy outcome from a potential life-threatening situation.