A minor injury and inclement weather ruled out a traditional Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) path for Pinarello, but he will nevertheless front up at Ellerslie on Saturday in prime order.
The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained representative is the current second favourite following a bold winning performance in his final lead-up outing while the stable also has a strong chance in the fillies’ feature with Achieve in the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m).
Pinarello missed a planned run after he was kicked in a trackwork mishap earlier in his preparation and also bypassed an outing at New Plymouth due to a rain-affected track. He then went to Ruakaka last month where he finished a before a below par third.
However, the highly regarded son of Tavistock’s last-start drubbing of the older horses over 2100m at Ellerslie left no doubt he was back on target.
“That was very good to see and we’ve really liked him for a long time,” James said.
“There has been a few turns in the road to get him to the Derby, but in the last three weeks he has really pleased us.”
Pinarello also has the pedigree to instil further confidence as he is out of Zonza, who James trained to win five races including the Gr.3 Ladies’ Day Vase (1600m) and she is a daughter of major stamina source Zabeel.
James has no concern about his charge, who will jump from barrier nine, seeing out the Derby distance.
“I have no doubt he will – he is just a born stayer in my opinion,” he said.
James first tasted Derby success with Tidal Light in 1986 when training in partnership with Jim Gibbs and, in his own right, subsequently won the classic with Roysyn (1995), Zonda (1997), Hades (1999) and Silent Achiever (2003).
He will team up with another Derby winner on Saturday with the booking of Jonathan Riddell, who guided Jimmy Choux to victory in 2011, to ride Pinarello.
He is raced by breeders Cambridge Stud, whose colours will also be carried by another homebred in the Lance Noble-trained Marchand. The son of Burgundy won two starts back before he was a sound third in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m).
James has also been pleased with the lead-up performances of the well-bred Achieve who will run in Saturday’s Sunline Vase and has the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) as her main autumn goal.
She ran second in the Gr.3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) before Christmas off the back of a Tauranga maiden success and was then fifth in the Karaka 3YO Classic (1600m) and third in the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m).
“She’s been coming through quietly and hasn’t had the easiest of runs in her races either. I think she is a good staying filly and I really like her,” James said.
Achieve was purchased out of Milan Park’s Karaka draft for $375,000 by James and is a daughter of Pierro and the O’Reilly mare Thee Achiever. She is from the potent Dennis Brothers family that includes Group One winners The Jewel, The Perfect Pink and The Chosen One in her up-front pedigree.
Tony Rider’s Milan Park will next Monday offer a Savabeel colt out of Thee Achiever as Lot 10 at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale.
“Achieve is raced by the Litts, who have been with me a fair while and they raced Elate, who was a stakes winner (Listed Oaks Prelude, 1800m),” James said.
The stable will also be represented at Ellerslie by Roccia in the Carlton Events Handicap (1600m) and she drew attention to her prospects when she came from the tail of the field to finish fifth at Pukekohe last time out.
“She didn’t have the best of luck so her run was really good,” James said. – NZ Racing Desk