Group One performer Llanacord will be aiming to kick off her preparation on a winning note when she heads to Hawera on Sunday to compete in the Grangewilliam Stud Breeders’ Stakes Saturday 7th October 1600.
The six-year-old mare has had two trials to fit her for her first-up run, including a 1200m hit-out at Foxton on Tuesday, which she won by half a length.
“I have been happy with both of her trials,” trainer and part-owner Stephen Nickalls said.
“The first one at Awapuni she ran on nicely and on Tuesday at Foxton she was well within herself and happy in her action, so I was really pleased with that one.
“She is really happy and well. I took her down for a hack around the farm this (Thursday) morning and she is bouncing, bucking and playing around.
“She is really happy going into it.”
Llanacord will jump from barrier seven on Sunday with Leah Hemi aboard, and Nickalls said he is looking forward to seeing how she performs first-up over a mile.
“You have got to question the mile first-up but she has had a lot of mileage. She came into work a little earlier than we had her in the past,” he said.
“The opportunity was there and the track is a Soft7, there is no rain forecast so it will probably improve a bit. It is a really nice race to kick her off, it is not overly strong.”
The daughter of Contributer is nominated for the last two legs of the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival as well as the Gr.3 Martin Collins New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton in November, but Nickalls is leaning toward the latter option with his mare.
“We always think big, we are never afraid to have a go at something,” Nickalls said.
“We put her in at Hastings in case she came up really well, but there are some serious horses going over there. Maybe a New Zealand Cup, Waikato Cup (Gr.3, 2400m), or Auckland Cup (Gr.2, 3200m) later on in the season.
“We would love to get her over ground. She placed in the Wanganui Cup (Listed, 2040m) last year and we thought we were going to be in for a good season, but after that we had a few niggling problems that just meant we couldn’t get the good racing into her to get to those distance races.”
Llanacord will be joined in her Sunday assignment by stablemate Manolo, who placed in his last start at Awapuni.
“We are going to run out of wet tracks for him. We threw him in there when the track was an eight. It has come back to a seven and the track may be a bit quick for him,” Nickalls said.
“On his day, he can gallop. He was really impressive at Hastings a few starts back. The puggy track last week probably got to him a little bit.
“He is fit and well and is bouncing out of his skin. Down on the minimum and not in an overly strong field, we might as well have a crack.”
Nickalls will also be represented by last start placegetter Speed Call in the Hawera Welding Contractors Hurdle (3100m).
“I have been waiting to get him jumping,” he said.
“He had one hurdle start at the end of last winter and pulled two shoes off. We forgave him for that and then we went to Wellington in the middle of winter and he kept fighting but it wasn’t really his go.
“He won a really nice trial on Tuesday to give him a blowout. I am really happy with him. He was super there last start and ran third on the flat.”