Prowess, the second-favourite for Saturday’s Gr.1 Auckland Thoroughbred Racing New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Te Rapa, has been withdrawn from the $1 million classic.
Trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood weren’t happy with the way she was working in the lead-up to the rich feature and have elected to bypass the race in favour of other Group One targets on either side of the Tasman.
“It is disappointing not having her there, but the horse comes first,” James said.
“I am fortunate that I have had many years of experience of training mile and a half three-year-olds. I have never chosen to withdraw one at this late stage because I felt we were doing the wrong thing, but I did with her.
“We both agreed that she hadn’t worked like a horse should going into a mile and a half race. We know how brilliant she is and we have chosen a different path.
“She will most likely go to the weight-for-age race (Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, 2050m) on the Auckland Cup Day and then all going well into the Vinery (Gr.1, 2000m).”
The stable will still be represented in the New Zealand Derby by OTI Racing’s Mark Twain who will now have the services of Warren Kennedy following Prowess’ withdrawal.
The son of Shocking won over 2100m at Hawke’s Bay last start and James has been pleased with his progress ahead of the Derby.
“His work has been the total opposite (of Prowess), it has been really strong. He has gone on since his last run,” he said.
With the withdrawal of Prowess, Sharp ‘N’ Smart is now an overwhelming $1.75 favourite for the Derby, ahead of Desert Lightning ($7), Waitak ($9) and Mark Twain ($12).
Kingsclere Stables will also have the services this week of another consistent filly in Contagious who will line-up in the Gr.2 Little Avondale Stud Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Awapuni on Wednesday.
The daughter of Proisir has been highly consistent in her career to date, winning one and placing in six of her nine starts, including a runner-up result in the Listed Futurity Stakes (1400m) and placed behind Prowess in the Gr.2 David and Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m) last start.
Her trainers were particularly pleased with her run over 2000m, having previously only run up to 1400m.
“We jumped her from 1300m to 2000m and I thought her run was huge,” James said.
“She has trained on well since, has drawn well (2), and we are pretty happy to have her down there.
“The favourite (Family Ties) commands respect, but behind that I think they are an even lot.”
Contagious is an equal third favourite with Val Di Zoldo with TAB bookmakers at $5.50, behind Family Ties ($3.20) and Pennyweka ($5).