Trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott have elected to give quality galloper Dragon Leap a brief let-up after he returned home from his two-race Australian campaign.
The Group Two winner ran fourth in the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) before posting the same result in the Gr.3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) a month later, but his trainers were dissatisfied with his condition and elected to cut his spring campaign short.
“The reason we brought him home was because the horse didn’t do well over there,” O’Sullivan said.
“By the time we lined him up in his last race compared to when he got on the plane there, he had lost a considerable amount of weight.
“I was with him for 10 days and Andrew went over for the race. We were both in agreeance that he had lost too much weight. We were doing very little work with him and it was very cold and he just wasn’t thriving.”
The Matamata training partnership felt pressing on in Australia would be detrimental to the six-year-olds longevity.
“It was no surprise to us when he ran fourth in the Memsie, we really hold the horse in high regard,” O’Sullivan said.
“We have just got to get him at his best and if we stayed there and continued on we may have caused a bit of damage for the whole season.
“We thought the wisest thing to do was pull up stumps and bring him home.
“He is in the paddock now and he is feeling really good. Will now look to hatch a plan.
“We certainly haven’t ruled Australia out in the autumn but he may be running him in races over a shorter course (than 1500m).”
Wexford Stables’ presence in Australia this spring may not be over, with O’Sullivan and Scott still contemplating heading across the Tasman with Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) placegetter Karman Line.
The four-year-old mare may have already been racing in Australia had it not been for the prolonged inclement weather in New Zealand, which has severely impacted her preparation.
“She has been plagued with wet tracks. We were even thinking of taking her over there and running her this coming weekend, but we just haven’t had the tracks to get her ready,” O’Sullivan said.
“On Saturday morning we decided not to work her at speed because of the track she had to work on.
“Andrew and I have decided to take the patient approach with her. She is improving all the time but she is not at her best at the moment. She is still backward in the coat and condition-wise she has probably bloomed in the last two weeks. We are still a wee way away.
“She has had one quiet trial and we were going to take her to Matamata this coming week to race her there but the way the track is going to be, probably at best we are looking at a (Soft)7 if the weather takes up, it is certainly a Heavy(10) at the moment.
“We don’t want to be running around in conditions that are not to her liking. You might get away with it on the actual day but two days later what is she going to look like?”
Meanwhile, Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) winner Dark Destroyer won’t be sighted for the rest of spring.
“He is in the paddock for quite some time,” O’Sullivan said.
“He had a bacterial infection after the race and he spiked a temperature. He is back at David’s (Archer, owner) property where he will have time in the paddock.
“He will come back and he will have all the summer and autumn (to race). He looked like he was going to be hard to beat in the next two at Hastings, but we got one of them.
“The prognosis for the horse is really good.”
The Matamata barn has also received a welcome addition to their three-year-old ranks in the form of smart gelding Waitak.
Previously with Peter and Dawn Williams, Waitak was placed in the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and was beaten a head by Sharp ‘N’ Smart in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m), with Mr Maestro third.
“We got a phone call out of the blue asking ‘would you take our horse for us’ not even knowing who the horse was. We agreed we would and it turned out to be Waitak,” O’Sullivan said.
“He is down to race on Livamol day in a three-year-old 1300m race.”