Saturday’s big race at New Plymouth will play a big part in letting local trainer Allan Sharrock know if he can get three horses into the field for the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa on August 27.
Sharrock starts Justaskme and Darci La Bella in the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m), and the latter may need a victory to help her get a run at Te Rapa.
Darci La Bella has returned to racing in style this winter, winning both her starts. She has now won seven of her 11 starts and pushed her rating up to 95.
“She’d probably prefer a slightly better track, but she’s trained super and she’s won on heavy and her work suggests she’s right up to winning it,” he said.
“She may have to win or run a place on Saturday to get in the Foxbridge field because she hasn’t got any black type as yet.”
Justaskme has been one of the best winter flat gallopers in recent years, resulting in him frequently being burdened with large weights. It didn’t stop him winning an open 1600m event at Hastings July 2, though he did benefit from a 4kg claim that day.
He won’t have the luxury of an apprentice claim in Listed company in the Opunake Cup, so Sharrock has engaged leading highweight jockey Troy Harris to ride him at 60kg.
“I think he’s the toughest horse in the race, put it that way. If it becomes a slog, you’d be looking at him to finish it off pretty strongly.”
Justaskme’s ultimate spring aim is likely to be the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings in October.
Sharrock’s other potential Foxbridge runners are Darci La Bella’s half-brother Tavi Mac and the fast-improving Butler.
Tavi Mac wasn’t quite the same force in 2021-22 as he was the previous season, winning one of his six starts and seeing his rating fall from 107 to 103, but Sharrock thinks he’s gotten whatever problems he had out of his system.
“One of his main his sway back so he received the same treatment that Sinarahma got, and her career really got going after we’d treated her, so we’re hopeful we get the same results with this little fella,” Sharrock said.
“He’s going super and trialled super on Tuesday. I’m probably as happy as I’ve ever been with him, and he’ll go straight into the Foxbridge.”
Butler had his first race for nearly a year at Te Rapa July 9, easily winning a 1200m open handicap by three lengths, and continues to train well.
“Butler’s probably as good as the other two, but he’s only rated 85 with no black type, so unfortunately, unless it’s a smaller field he’ll struggle to make it.
“We’re waiting to see how our destiny plays out with the three of them. If Butler doesn’t make the field there’s an open sprint at Awapuni on the same day, but I think he’s up to the Foxbridge class.”
In addition to Justaskme and Darci La Bella, Sharrock has three other horses starting at New Plymouth on Saturday, all of which look to be winning chances.
He begins the day with Stevie Nix, who contests the first race of the day, an 1100m maiden. She was well favoured when resuming at Otaki on June 24 but eventually finished third.
“I thought she’d win first-up on what she’d done. She was given a good ride and was presented at the right time, but probably the sticky ground found her out,” he said.
“She’s come on for that race. She’d need to put her hand up, but I don’t see that as a strong field on Saturday, so she’s a good each-way chance.”
Later in the day, Cherry Rose contests a special conditions maiden over 1400m, and looks a good chance to reverse her form with her last-start conqueror Stallone.
“She’s gone the right way since then. She’ll only have 52 to carry with Amless Bohorun riding so she’ll have a very good show.”
Sharrock rounds the day off with Aricina, who runs in a Rating 74 event over 1600m. She is second up after beating all but No Loitering at New Plymouth on July 1.
“She’s gone super first-up, and probably out of the team she’s improved the most. We’re taking the 3 kilos off her back and she could possibly be our best of the day.”
Meanwhile, Sharrock said Sinarahma, who was set to be retired, may race on for the first part of next season while possibly in foal, targeting races like the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) on Boxing Day.
“We had planned to retire her, but I don’t think I’ve seen her any better,” he said.
“She’s on the walker right now. She’ll be served by Tarzino, and if she gets in foal early, we’ll probably have a go at the early summer weight-for-age races.”