Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray believe they may have unearthed their next Cups horse in Regazzo.
The four-year-old gelding was impressive when winning his maiden by 5-1/2 lengths at Te Rapa earlier this month and his conditioners believe big things may be instore for the son of Tavistock.
“His win was super impressive first-up,” Ritchie said.
“He has always looked like he would be a very good stayer. He ran second in the Salver last season to White Noise.
“We felt he was a Derby horse but he wasn’t quite strong enough. You would think he would get through the grades nicely this prep.”
Regazzo will line-up in the Happy 20th Birthday SkyCity Hamilton Mile (1600m) at Te Rapa on Friday where he will be ridden by Jonathan Riddell from gate five.
“The good thing about him is that he does handle all types of going, so any rain that we get tonight is not going to be an issue for him,” Ritchie said.
“He is in a nice field but I think he is going to win better races than this one tomorrow. He is going to be extremely hard to beat.”
Ritchie has eyed the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) in January as a potential target, but he said there is plenty of water to go under the bridge before then.
“We just want to go to the premier meetings and bank the most money that we can going through the grades,” he said.
“We feel he is a Cup horse by summer and definitely the autumn. Our job is to get him into those races with the lightest possible weight.
“I don’t think a race like the Wellington Cup is beyond him at all. If he got into that race on the minimum, that would be the best way we could do our job for that horse, and we will see where we can go from there.”
Stablemate The Racketeer will also be looking to make it back-to-back wins when he contests the NZB Ready To Run Sale Trainers Series 3YO (1200m).
The Proisir three-year-old won first-up over 1200m at Ruakaka and Ritchie is eager to see how he will handle a rise in grade against some handy horses on Friday, which includes Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) placegetter Fellini.
“He is still doing a lot wrong. We have always felt that he has got a heap of talent. Where the end of the string is we aren’t sure yet,” Ritchie said.
“His ringcraft is definitely a little bit of an issue. We have tried to ride him cold and he wants to get on with it in the running of the races, and wants to go forward. When he does get to the front he waits a little bit.
“We have got to step up at some point and this looks like the right race as a steppingstone to perhaps a Sarten (Gr.2, 1400m) if he can measure up tomorrow.”
Ritchie is looking forward to Hammer Time making his debut in the Foster Maintain 3YO 1400.
“He is a really lovely horse. I am not 100 percent sure about the wet track, I think he wants a firmer track,” Ritchie said.
“He is a big, lean sort of horse. The only reason why he hasn’t appeared yet is because he has just lacked that little bit of strength because of his size.
“From 17 he will go back in the field but I expect him to be powering to the line in a strong maiden race.
“He is certainly one to watch.”
Heading to Hastings on Saturday will be last start winner Goldburg.
The Burgundy gelding has had three career starts to date and will be looking to add to his record in the Caro Meo Bayleys Fashion In The Field Premier (1300m).
“He will be interesting. The Burgundys normally handle wet ground,” Ritchie said.
“He is a light-framed horse which makes you think he will skip through that heavy ground down there. I am not 100 percent sure about that as we haven’t galloped him on the heaviest of tracks. It is just a wait and see with him and barrier one by that time of the day might be a massive disadvantage.
“He is another one that has got to put his hand up to warrant running in the Sarten. He holds a nomination for the 2000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m).
“If Michael McNab rides him patiently and he can get three back on the fence, I am looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
Meanwhile, Ritchie was pleased to see Rocket Lad secure his second consecutive win on the Cambridge Synthetic on Wednesday, and he believes brighter things are instore for the gelding.
“I think he is better than a synthetic horse,” Ritchie said.
“We got it wrong with him last prep – we ran him in the wrong races and he wasn’t ready for it, and we let him down.
“We thought we would take it very softly with him and run him in the easiest possible races we could. The way he is winning them is extremely impressive.
“He will go to Hastings now for the last day, providing they don’t get a heavy track down there. The way he is doing things, he is exciting.”