Justamaiz will have to overcome an interrupted lead-up and an unfavourable weather outlook to bag himself another Gr.3 Waikato Cup (2400m) on his home turf on Saturday.
Trained at Te Rapa by David Greene, the son of Guillotine won the Skycity Hamilton-sponsored feature three years ago and will chase a repeat on limited racing this time around.
“He’s in good order and obviously had a slightly different preparation than normal. He missed a run in the Counties Cup (Gr.3, 2100m) due to the track and had to go back to a mile and he was a bit one-paced second-up,” Greene said.
“We needed to get more miles into him and I think he’s coming in at a nice spot, but it would have been beneficial for him to have had a run over ground before stepping up to a mile and a-half.
“He’s a genuine stayer and normally I would have no concerns about him running the trip, the main concern is the weather forecast as he’s a good track horse.”
However, on a decent surface and with champion jockey Opie Bosson booked for the ride the eight-year-old is well enough to make his presence felt.
“Being the topweight (59kg), it will be difficult for him if we get too much rain. If it stays away, there’s no reason why he can’t be competitive again,” Greene said.
He is also looking forward to another staying opportunity for Justamaiz on his back door.
“The City of Auckland Cup (Gr.3, 2400m) has probably been the big focus for us and nearly like a second Waikato Cup being at Te Rapa over a mile and a-half,” Greene said.
The contest will be run on New Year’s Day as the Windsor Park Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
“He obviously goes well at Te Rapa and with the way the weight scale of that race usually plays out, he will probably get in much better than the Waikato Cup,” Greene said.
The Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) is also on Justamaiz’s radar, who is proven at the trip with a third placing to his credit in last season’s Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m).
“We are quite keen to have a go at the Auckland Cup, he’s had one before and didn’t really work out for him,” Greene said.
“He has been one of those horses that for whatever reason has never gone a good race at Ellerslie.
“That’s been his hoodoo track all the way through so with the Auckland Cup at Pukekohe this season it might be his chance for a decent crack at that.”
Greene is also bullish about the future distance prospects of stablemate Youledo, who runs in Saturday’s Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifier (2200m).
“He is a horse that I have got a lot of time for, he’s a progressive staying type. We’ve got him nominated for some of the bigger cups’ races later on in the season,” he said.
“His work has been outstanding this week, I think he will be very, very tough to beat and clearly the best of my chances this weekend.
“The Dunstan Final (2400m) on New Year’s Day is the first goal we’re working toward. From there, if he’s still up and going well we would be quite keen to have a crack at something like the Wellington Cup.
“He’s a five-year-old gelding by Fabulous and looks every bit an out and out staying type. He’s very lightly raced so is learning on the job a bit, but he looks very, very good.”
The stable’s other representative at Te Rapa is Just Dance, who steps out in the See You @ Te Rapa Tavern Mile (1600m. She has a win and two placings from three starts this campaign.
“She seems to be a bit cursed by the barrier gods of late and has drawn 16 of 16,” Greene said.
“Unfortunately, that means she is probably going to get back a bit and makes things slightly more difficult but she is in really good form.
“I think later this season or next I think she will furnish into a mare that can get black type somewhere.”