Local trainer Lisa Latta is keeping a close eye on the weather in the countdown to Saturday’s Gr.3 Hunterville Vet Club Metric Mile (1600m) at Awapuni.
Latta has three runners entered for the $100,000 feature, and both Belardo Boy and Sacred Pearl will have their chances significantly boosted if the forecast rain affects the Awapuni surface.
Belardo Boy has been freshened since the Grand National Carnival at Riccarton in early August, where he scored a powerful come-from-behind win in the Gr.3 Winter Cup (1600m). He backed up the following Saturday, finishing fifth in a slowly run race over 1800m.
“Everything’s been really good with him since those two races down in Christchurch,” Latta said. “We gave him a couple of weeks in the paddock, and he’s been working very nicely since then. He’s had a trial to prepare him and is nice and fit.
“He probably just needs a little bit of rain. It’s come back quite a lot and is a pretty dry track at Awapuni at the moment. They are forecasting some rain, so I’m hoping that happens.”
Joe Doyle will take the mount on Belardo Boy, who is currently a $6.50 third favourite in Metric Mile markets behind Ladies Man ($4.50) and the Winter Cup runner-up Cork ($6).
Stablemate Sacred Pearl scored back-to-back wins on heavy tracks at Awapuni and Hastings in June and July, then returned from a freshen-up and found the line nicely for fourth behind Kopua on a good track at Hawera on September 3.
“She’s really consistent and definitely deserves a shot at a good race like this,” Latta said. “But she’s another one who’s better with a bit of rain around, so hopefully she’ll get that.”
Latta’s best-performed runner in the Metric Mile field is this year’s Gr.2 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Platinum Invador, who has won on all track conditions.
The winner of five races and more than $780,000 in stakes, the Redwood gelding caught the eye with a flashing finish into third when he returned to racing in the Livamol Premier (1600m) at Hastings on September 9.
“I’m really rapt with him,” Latta said. “It was a huge run first-up and he’s come through it beautifully. He’s looking fantastic.
“We’re just using this as an opportunity to get one more run into him over a mile before we step him back up over ground. That’s likely to be in the Livamol Classic (Gr.1, 2040m) in a few weeks’ time.”
Latta also has three runners in Saturday’s feature sprint, the $50,000 Carrfield Livestock/Wools Of NZ (1200m).
Wild Moose is returning from a long lay-off, having last been seen when scoring an easy win over 1600m at Awapuni in April of last year.
The consistent son of Nadeem has recorded four wins and seven placings from only 13 career starts, and he was a trial winner at Foxton late last month.
“He’s had 18 months off, so I’m expecting that he’s going to need a run or two,” Latta said. “But this is on our back doorstep and he has a really good record on the track, so it seems like a nice starting point. We’ll see how he goes.”
Old Town Road brings consistent form into Saturday’s race, but all of his five career victories have come on heavy tracks.
“He’s really well, but he’s another one who’s probably looking for a bit of rain,” Latta said. “I think Lily Sutherland’s claim brings him down to a really good position in the weights for this race (54kg).”
Five-time winner Chikira Lass is first-up in Saturday’s race, and she has recorded only one placing from seven previous starts in a fresh state.
“I’m really happy with how she’s coming up, but she’s generally one who takes a lot of improvement from her first-up run,” Latta said.
Latta warmed up for Saturday’s meeting with a successful day at Woodville on Thursday. Popsagoosey cleared maiden ranks with a narrow victory in the Merrylees Hotel (1200m), and the four-year-old Tivaci gelding has now had nine starts for a win, two seconds and a fourth. Verardino was a second placegetter in the Ruahine Property Works (2100m).