IN Racing
Savaglee primed for season finale
Exciting youngster Savaglee will be hoping to end his juvenile season this Saturday the way he started it, winning at Trentham.
Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | April 03, 2024
Savaglee will contest the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Trentham on Saturday, Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Exciting youngster Savaglee will be hoping to end his juvenile season this Saturday the way he started it, winning at Trentham.

The son of Savabeel was an emphatic four-length winner at the Upper Hutt track when on debut in October and trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard would be delighted if he could bookend the season with a winning result in Saturday’s Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).

Bred by Waikato Stud, Savaglee was purchased by The Oaks Stud at last year’s New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale for $400,000, and he has been living up to his price tag with some pleasing early results in the colours of The Oaks Stud principal Dick Karreman.

From six starts to date he has posted two victories, including the Gr.3 Matamata Slipper (1200m), and his connections were pleased with his fourth placed run in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie last start.

“It was a super run in the Sistema,” Gerard said. “He got a long way back and his sectionals were very good. He came pretty wide as well, so he covered a lot of extra ground. Realistically, I think the horses that led on that day dictated in front, which made it even harder for him from behind, so his effort was very good.”

Gerard believes Savaglee has matured a lot this preparation and she said that will hold him in good stead in seasons to come.

“Early on he was pretty electric and he thought he was probably bigger than he was,” she said. “He did a few things wrong and it has taken him a little bit of time to settle down and start doing things right. He was super-fast and he just wanted to get on with it, being a colt, but he has learned to settle now, he relaxes and it is going to take him a long way.

“His constitution is amazing, he just loves racing. He never takes a backwards step, he has been up for a long time and you wouldn’t even know looking at him – he eats everything and gets on and gets his work done.

“He has worked up nicely, he has come through that last run well. I am happy with him and I think the distance (1400m) will be ideal.”

Savaglee will be joined on the float trip south by stablemate Lingjun Xiongfeng, who will tackle the Gr.2 City Of Palmerston North Awapuni Gold Cup (2100m).

“He is a really nice horse and I am looking forward to getting him up over a longer trip,” Gerard said.

“He was very good down at Wellington last time when the track wasn’t so good. We know he is not the best on wet tracks, so we are going to have to monitor that, but I think over 2000m he comes to another level yet again.”

Meanwhile, the stable will take two good chances to Ashburton on Thursday, including Group One performer Harlech.

The seven-year-old gelding is on a path towards the Gr.3 Coca-cola Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) at Riccarton in 10 days, and he will ready for his stakes assignment with a hit-out in the Greg Jones Memorial (1300m) on Thursday.

“Harlech was always down there for the Canterbury Gold Cup, but it was a month between runs and there wasn’t another race for him to run in, that is why he is dropping back to the 1300m,” Gerard said.

“It looks a bit strange but there are no other options for us. He is doing that well down there he needed to have another run.”

The son of Darci Brahma returned to form when placing in the Hororata Gold Cup (1800m) at Riccarton last start, and Gerard is hoping he can continue that form in the south.

“He probably looks a bit grey on paper, but he had a really good run last time, he was unlucky not to win,” she said. “He is still showing us around the stables that he wants to be there. We were just in search of that better track, we went down and got one and he showed us that he is still in form.”

Sassy Merlot is another stable runner that has headed south in search of stakes targets and will be kept up to the mark with a hit-out in the Agraforum Growing Innovation (1600m).

There are 1400s (stakes races) down there on the last couple of days, which we will certainly look at if she can put her hand up,” Gerard said.

“She got caught a bit wide after a long trip and worked a bit too much up the straight last time and I thought she was a bit unlucky.

“We are trying her at the mile, I think she has showed us at times that she has wanted to get the mile, and there probably won’t be an easier mile than around Ashburton.

“She has drawn a bit wide, which is not ideal, but let’s see what she can do tomorrow.

Savaglee Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard Harlech Sassy Merlot Lingjun Xiongfeng