Talented three-year-old Pinarello remains on target for the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) despite missing his final lead-up outing at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained son of Tavistock was to have taken his place in the Gr.3 Rough Habit Plate (2143m), but mild illness and heavily rain-affected going combined to delay his Australian debut.
“He spiked a bit of a temperature earlier last week and that and the track all pointed to the right thing being not to run,” Wellwood said.
Bred and raced by Cambridge Stud, Pinarello has already proved effective when fresh and was a dominant last-start winner of the Gr.2 Championship Stakes (2100m) last month, his first appearance since a sound fifth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
He coasted home by 2-1/2 lengths at Pukekohe after missing a planned run in the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) at Awapuni when he was late scratched at the barrier due to a tooth issue.
“He’ll head straight to the Derby now and he did go seven weeks between runs before the Championship Stakes and he obviously did win that convincingly,” Wellwood said.
“He will go to the Gold Coast this Saturday for an exhibition gallop and that will hopefully have him right for the Derby.”
On the domestic front, the stable is looking forward to the black-type debut of the in-form Apostrophe at Trentham this weekend.
“Apostrophe will be nominated for the Rangitikei Gold Cup (Listed, 1600m). She is certainly progressive and we just hope the weather is reasonably good and we can have a fair crack,” Wellwood said.
The Tavistock mare has been patiently handled with three wins from nine appearances, including a commanding last start display at Te Rapa.
The four-year-old dropped back from the outside gate and powered home after improving wide out approaching the home bend.
“She was quite impressive and covered the earth and when you see them sprint like that it’s pretty impressive,” Wellwood said.
The stable has enjoyed a good season to date with 36 winners, including nine at Group or Listed level and spearheaded by the now retired Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) winner Two Illicit, although the onset of wet tracks will temper their success rate.
“Traditionally, we do quieten down over the winter and we have had quite a lot of runners of late due to the tracks being good,” Wellwood said.
“The yearlings are now starting to come through, which will keep us busy, and the next couple of months will be quiet, racing-wise.”
Among those to have already gone for a winter break is the Dunstan Feeds Stayers’ Championship Final (2400m) winner Dionysus and the promising two-year-old Charmario, twice a winner and a dual stakes placegetter.
“Dionysus will be back for the spring and Charmario has just gone out. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to the race at Te Rapa (Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre Stakes, 1200m) due to a hoof abscess,” Wellwood said.
“That came right, but really there was nothing else left for him. He’s gone to the paddock and he’ll be back in the stable for the early spring races.”