Awapuni trainer Lisa Latta heads to her local meeting on Saturday with some trepidation as the heavy rain that has lashed much of New Zealand this week hasn’t missed the Palmerston North venue.
122mm of rain has fallen on the track over the last five days, which unsurprisingly has been posted a Heavy 11.
While amongst her dozen-strong team of acceptors Latta has horses capable on rain-affected going, not all heavy tracks are the same, which makes it a challenge for trainers and punters alike.
“There has been a lot of wind and a fair bit of drying today, so there is a fair chance it could be a gluey heavy track,” Latta said.
Latta, who is sixth on the national trainers’ premiership with 19 wins to her credit, doesn’t believe she has unearthed a natural two-year-old to date this season, but is hoping debut runners Cheveux ($3) and Knickerless ($5) can put their best foot forward in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1100m).
“Cheveux has won a trial on a good track. She is a bit of an immature filly, but she can certainly gallop. Her mother liked it a bit wet and her full brother is Belardo Boy and he doesn’t mind it a bit wet,” Latta said.
“Knickerless does everything right. Her half-brother Tamahine was quite impressive winning again today (at Otaki). She is a lovely filly and I wouldn’t say she is a really natural two-year-old, but she is a really nice filly.”
Belardo Boy ($3.50), a last start winner of the only race contested at the subsequently abandoned Trentham meeting, is joint top-rater in the three-year-old 1400m race, where Shamus ($1.90) and The Stoney One ($3.30) look the chief rivals.
Latta indicated the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) could be an option for the son of Belardo who has improved significantly since the addition of the nose band two starts ago.
“We will just get through tomorrow but he is a horse that has done a fair bit wrong and his last two runs have been much better since we’ve put the crossover noseband on him,” Latta said.
“He was just racing too fiercely, so I think the gear change has been important.”
More than handy galloper Sir Nate will represent the stable in the Gr.3 Humphries Construction Manawatu Cup (2300m), backing up a week after a solid run for fourth behind race rival Marroni over 2100m.
“He doesn’t mind a wet track at all. He hasn’t had the rub of the green in his last two or three runs. I think last week was a bit better run than we initially thought,” Latta said of the galloper that has earned more than $280,000 in prizemoney.
“Ryan (Elliot, jockey) just found he might have sat a bit too long. He is a horse where you need to get going a little bit on. He is pretty laid-back.”
Latta suggested in-form galloper He’s A Doozey, who contests the Flooring Room 1600, was the likely pick of her runners, having finished runner-up during the New Zealand Cup Carnival at his most recent run.
Meanwhile, Latta is expecting to be as busy as ever over the forthcoming holiday period, but is pleased her teenage children Josh and Jamie share her enthusiasm for racing.
“We will be flat out. The kids will be working with me. It definitely helps that they love it and let’s just call them cheap labour,” she quipped.
“Jamie does a lot of show jumping and attends Nga Tawa, which is home to New Zealand's largest on-site school equestrian centre.
“Josh is off to Otago university next year to do a commerce degree, which will do him good just to see what else is out there.
“He has done a yearling preparation at Wellfield and at Haunui Farm and he will hopefully get to help them out again. He enjoys leading the yearlings and just loves the horses."