Hopes of successfully executing a long-term southern plan with talented mare Sanibel received a timely boost in her final lead-up appearance.
Saturday week’s Gr.3 Winning Edge Presentations Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton was identified as a major goal some months ago by trainer Shane Brown for the daughter of Shamexpress, who delivered a pleasant surprise last time out.
Sanibel produced a confidence-boosting performance earlier this month when she came off a four-week break between outings to account for her open sprint rivals over 1100m at Trentham.
“She was very good and winning was a bonus, I thought it would be a touch short for her and as long as she was running home I was going to be happy,” Brown said.
“I targeted the Cup two or three months ago and thought it would be a nice race for her.”
Sanibel’s ability to cope with a variety of underfoot winter conditions will also stand her in good stead at Riccarton.
“The biggest thing with her is that she can handle most tracks you throw at her, she is capable of getting through a puggy track and can handle it loose as well,” Brown said.
While Brown is more than happy with his representative’s condition, he is under no illusion about the threat posed by the in-form favourite Justaskme, a spectacular last-start winner of the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m).
“Kate (Hercock) will ride her again, but mind you it’s going to be hard to beat Allan Sharrock’s horse,” he said.
“My mare has gone the right way since Trentham and looks fantastic and I’m looking forward to it. We’re happy to fly under the radar a little bit and hopefully she’ll be good enough.”
Sanibel is raced by Woodville-Pahiatua Racing Club President Andrew Boulton and friends with Brown and his partner Amy Ames-Durey holding the other 50 percent stake in the mare.
“We have had quite a bit of interest in her since she won that race at Tauranga last year,” Brown said.
“We’re quite keen to breed from her ourselves and why not with a black-type mare, it’s as good a place to start with as any.”
Out of a half-sister to the Gr.1 Waikato International Stakes (2000m) winner Veloce Bella, Sanibel’s career highlight to date was victory in the Listed Tauranga Classic (1400m) 12 months ago and the stable went close to defending the title this year.
The lightly raced Shelbyrock’n finished a game third and will take a step back in grade to Rating 75 company when she runs in Saturday’s UZA Bus Handicap (1400m) at Otaki.
“I’m happy with her and her work has been very good and if she produces another run like she did the other day then you’d have to think she is a genuine live chance,” Brown said.
“She’s been a very weak mare and used to have a run and her condition would fall away and we’ve had to look after her a fair bit, that’s why she’s rising six and only had 13 runs.
“This year, she has improved a lot and is handling her racing and she’s holding her condition a lot better.”
Brown will also have two each-way chances at Thursday’s meeting on the all-weather track at Awapuni with Gracie Lee in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1400m) and Recommendher in the Humphries Construction Handicap (1700m).
“Gracie Lee is up to 1400m, which is the only query but it’s a Pearl Series race and she’s eligible so we’ll have a crack,” he said.
“The other mare is no champion, but her last two runs have been solid and 1700m will really suit her,” Brown said.