The connections of promising three-year-old Danjuro have their eyes on a $1.5 million prize following his impressive debut win at Woodville on Thursday.
The son of Saxon Warrior jumped well and settled outside leader Bella Corno and under the urgings of jockey Johnathan Parkes was able to get up over his adversary in the closing stages to win the Dannevirke Carriers (1200m) by a short head, with a further short neck back to the fast-finishing Grid Girl.
Trainer Peter Didham was rapt with the result and said his connections are in for an exciting ride, with the gelding far from a finished product.
“He is a lovely, tall, athletic horse, but mentally and physically he is probably six months away,” Didham said.
“He was on and off the bridle and didn’t really know what to do. He is probably better midfield and chasing other horses at this stage.
“He looked a good horse in the birdcage and I think the second and third horses are very promising as well, so I think there will be a bit of form out of the race.
“It was good to get the win under the belt for the syndicate. They are really nice owners who paid a bit of money for him. They have had some offers and have rejected them, it’s nice to have a nice horse in the stable.”
Didham was taken by Danjuro when expecting him at Karaka as a yearling last year and went to $140,000 to secure him out of Curraghmore’s draft.
Nominated for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November, Didham said Danjuro could head towards the Christchurch Classic, but he is also eyeing a richer prize in the $1.5million Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) in Auckland two months later.
“We will just take him quietly through the next couple of weeks and then we will find a 1400m and go from there,” Didham said.
“He is Karaka nominated and I know it is a long way to go yet and we have only won a maiden at Woodville, but he is going to grow into a nice horse and the Saxon Warriors appear that they want at least a mile, and he has always looked like he wants a mile.”
Meanwhile, Didham is looking forward to racing at his home track of Awapuni on Saturday where he will be represented by four runners.
Almanzor gelding Starbilly finished runner-up on debut at Awapuni last month and will be vying to go one better in the Pilet Contracting LTD/Pioneer Seeds 1400.
“He will benefit if there is a shower or two of rain around,” Didham said.
“He has got a horror draw (15) and he wants 2000m, so he needs to start working his way up. He has had 1100m and he is up to 1400m now. He will probably be ridden cold and run home.
“It would be hard to see him winning from that draw and coming from the back at Palmy on Saturday, but I just want to see him going forward and get him up to a mile and 2000m where I think he will really show what he has got.”
Stablemates Extraordinaire and Morus will contest the Farmers Transport (2015) LTD/Marsh Insurance Brokers 1400, while Gum Basher will round out Didham’s quartet of runners in the Manawatu Toyota/John Turkington Forestry 1100.
“Extraordinaire and Morus are both flying,” Didham said. “It is a strong field, as it should be for good stake money. Both have jumped out and trialled really well and both of them are a chance.
“Gum Basher is a hard case and her form is poly form. She just keeps improving and is a tough little horse. She sat three-wide on the poly last week and still won, and went home and licked the bowl clean.
“We are doing something a bit unique where we are dropping back from 1400m to 1100m. We have kept her fresh this week.
“She will be going out for a spell no matter what. She will get back and she could go a cheeky race.”