Waipukurau trainer Kirsty Lawrence is heading to Awapuni on Saturday with a pep in her step as three of her runners get ready for a tilt at some big assignments in the coming weeks.
Her assault will be led by evergreen gelding Pep Torque, who heads into the Manawatu ITM 2100m in good form.
The nine-year-old son of Nadeem has won two and placed in one of his three starts this time in, including the Listed Feilding Gold Cup (2100m) in October, and Lawrence is hoping he continues his good run of form as he prepares for next Saturday’s Gr.3 Manawatu Cup (2300m).
“He is bright and well, but we are stuck in a tough place in the handicap,” Lawrence said.
“We are heading from here to the Manawatu Cup next week and there aren’t the top weights around, so Faye Lazet (three-kilogram claiming apprentice) takes a bit of weight off him on Saturday.”
Purchased for just $2,800 off gavelhouse.com, Lawrence said Pep Torque has become a stable favourite and she has been delighted with the results they have been able to achieve with him.
“He is a bit of a stable pet and Susan, who works for me, is in the ownership with him. We take him out to the beach and do a few different things with him, but he is a cool little horse,” Lawrence said.
“He is a nine-year-old now, so he is certainly a seasoned horse, but he is sound, I have been really lucky with him.
“It was a real thrill (to win the Feilding Gold Cup) because he has been a great campaigner. We paid $2,800 for him and with that last start he has ticked over $250,000 in stakes, so it has been a good effort.”
While hopeful ahead of next week’s Manawatu Cup, Lawrence said Pep Torque would likely keep to open handicaps over the summer months following his Group Three assignment.
“Next week is a Group Three but he is not really up to the weight-for-age races, so he will kick around the Summer Cups series and through those normal open handicaps where I can put claimers on,” she said.
Lawrence is also looking forward to lining up Zappa Jak in the Lawnmaster Lithium 2200, where she is hoping he can gain a spot in the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2400m) at Te Rapa on New Year’s Day.
“He is a neat horse with a great syndicate with a lot of first-time owners in it,” Lawrence said.
“We got stuck sitting outside the leader last start and he just didn’t cop the track.
“He is stepping up to the 2200m on Saturday and is in the qualifier for the Dunstan Staying Championship, so we are possibly looking to head there on New Year’s Day.
“He is a nice horse, but he is only four, so whatever he does this season he will be a nice staying horse next campaign.”
Stablemate Real Slim Tradie is another runner Lawrence is hoping to head north with over the Christmas period.
However, her plans rely solely on Saturday’s result in the NZB Karaka 2023 Trainers Series 1300, where a good showing should result in a qualifying spot for the Stella Artois 1500 Championship Final (1500m) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day.
“He had no luck last week at Trentham, but he has pulled up really well so we have opted to back him up on Saturday for a last throw at the stumps to qualify for the Stella Artois on Boxing Day,” Lawrence said.
“He has acquitted himself really well. That last start run was the worst result of his life. He is a nice, big horse and needs a bit of luck.
“He has drawn wide (20) on Saturday, but we won’t worry about that. He is better off being three-wide then ridden pretty.”
Lawrence’s final runner of the day will be Indulge Me in the Landmark Homes 2200m.
“It is his first time over ground. He will need to show something on Saturday, but he has been looking for ground,” she said.
“We have got Ashvin (Mudhoo) on him on Saturday to try and stoke him up a little bit.”