Robbie Patterson will head to Trentham buoyed by a winning midweek double and even a hefty impost for his star performer Coventina Bay on Saturday hasn’t dimmed his confidence in the mare’s prospects.
The New Plymouth trainer was successful with Bold Bette and Eddie Wood at Otaki on Thursday and runner-up finishes from Barney Rubble and Whaea Meri completed a top day out for the stable.
Patterson is bullish about Coventina Bay’s chances in the Gr.3 Dixon & Dunlop Anniversary Handicap (1600m), despite her being saddled with 60kg and giving a minimum of 6.5kg to the rest of the field, while Contribute is in top order for the Lincoln Farms Premier (1400m).
Coventina Bay didn’t show her best during a three-start Queensland winter carnival campaign but bounced straight back following a break with an emphatic first-up victory in the Gr.2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) prior to Christmas.
“She’s definitely the class horse of the race and the weight tells you that. She is very well and I couldn’t have her any better for this,” Patterson said.
“She’s probably 95 percent right and this will top her off nicely for the Thorndon Mile (Gr.1, 1600m).
“Hopefully, she can get three back on the rail or in the trail on Saturday because there doesn’t look to be a lot of speed in the race. If she is within three or four lengths off them at the top of the straight, it will take a good horse to beat her.”
The six-year-old was ridden in her resuming run by Craig Grylls, who will take the reins again at Trentham.
“She has got a big weight which makes it tough, but she’s a very good mare and she will improve a lot with that first run,” Grylls said.
Should Coventina Bay run up to expectations in her next two appearance, Patterson is keen to try her over more ground in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 12 to open up further options.
“As long as she gets through Saturday and the Thorndon well, she’ll definitely go to the Herbie Dyke. It’s a prime opportunity, she loves Te Rapa and travelling doesn’t worry her,” Patterson said.
“The Herbie Dyke will tell us where her future lies really. I think she’ll get the trip and I know she’s by Shamexpress, but she is out of a High Chaparral mare and is a beautifully relaxed horse as well.”
Stablemate Contribute has won two of her six starts and Patterson is expecting another bold showing from the Contributer mare and isn’t over duly concerned by her outside gate.
“She is an absolutely gorgeous horse and while she has drawn 10 of 10 on Saturday, it’s probably not the worst thing for her as she’s a natural get back horse anyway,” he said. “It will be tempo related and she’s got a devastating finish.”
Contribute was ridden in her resuming victory on her home track by Grylls, who again retains the mount.
“She won nicely fresh-up and will take a lot of natural improvement out of the run,” he said.
Grylls has a strong book of rides at Trentham, including Jamie Richards’ New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) runner-up Shepherd’s Delight in the Gr.2 Life Direct Wellington Guineas (1400m).
“It’s nice to get on one like her and she raced well down south so she should be a really good chance,” he said.
Grylls will also partner Shepherd’s Delight’s stablemate Cote De Beaune, a runaway debut winner at New Plymouth, in the Fusion Electrical Premier (1200m) and Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) longshot Can I Get An Amen.
His other feature race ride is in the Gr.3 Mode Technology Trentham Stakes (2100m) aboard Waisake and Grylls said an improved showing was on the cards with trainer Allan Sharrock to put blinkers on the stayer.