Top mare La Crique has bounced back from an uncomfortable experience when resuming at Te Rapa and will head south later this week with connections looking for a confidence-boosting result in the Central Districts.
The daughter of Vadamos finished fifth in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) in her first appearance since her fourth placing in the Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in October.
“Obviously, it was a little bit of an uncharacteristic run for her at Te Rapa, but we’ve been over her with a fine-toothed comb and she’s fine,” said Katrina Alexander, who prepares the four-year-old with husband Simon.
“She got herself back into a position on the rail and didn’t cope with the kick back and looked like she was hanging at one point trying to get her head away from the sand coming back at her.
“When she pulled up afterward she was a very angry horse with a lot of coughing.”
Alexander said the most encouraging part of La Crique’s performance was late in the race.
“She came up behind Maven Belle and when she angled outside of her with nothing else in front she actually ran on quite well.
“It was disappointing on face value and our realistic expectation was to run in the first four or five, I didn’t think she could beat those other horses over that distance and that’s where she finished.”
Unbeaten in two second-up outings, La Crique will now head to the Gr.1 El Cheapo Cars WFA Classic (1600m) and Australian plans will be discussed in more depth after this weekend.
“We are planning to go to Otaki on Saturday and she’ll gallop tomorrow and make sure she gallops in a fashion that we’re used to seeing from her,” Alexander said.
“The question is does she need further now for the length of time she’s been back in work, that would probably be my only reservation.”
The Otaki meeting clashes with Matamata, which hosts three black type events, but regular rider Craig Grylls has already made a commitment to continue his association with the mare.
“Gryllsy is sticking with La Crique so that’s great. It’s absolutely frustrating and feel for the jockeys who have to try and split themselves,” Alexander said.
“We just want to see a good, solid run from her but the season we’re having is mucking up a lot of fillies and mares with the cycling and they don’t know whether they’re coming or going.”
The A$5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley on March 18 has been ruled out for La Crique with other Australian options being considered, particularly the Queensland winter carnival.
“It was never really high on the radar to be honest and I think once she has this mile here she’ll want more ground and that will come too soon to freshen her for that,” Alexander said.
“I think Brisbane is more likely and always quite liked the idea of giving her a next Australian campaign coming through on a roll rather than doing her racing in New Zealand and then going to target one race.
“We would rather bring her through in a fresher state and tick the distances off on the way through over there so Brisbane has been talked about.”