Smart stayer Ladies Man will back up in consecutive weeks in his attempt to win the Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on March 11.
Ladies Man started a hot favourite for the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) last month after winning the Gr.3 Trentham Stakes (2100m) a fortnight beforehand.
He wasn’t ideally suited by the very heavy track for the Wellington Cup and jockey Craig Grylls wasn’t able to get to the favoured outside rail, as eventual winner Leaderboard did. However, his trainer Allan Sharrock felt the two week gap leading into the race may not have suited Ladies Man.
“He raced too fresh in the Wellington Cup. Craig has taken three holds on him during the run, and to his credit he’s still in the fight at the 300m mark in the worst part of the track. He did a marvellous job to run fourth,” Sharrock said.
“We don’t want him as fresh for the Auckland Cup. He’s raced well week to week in the past, so we’ll run him at Te Rapa the week before in the open 2200m (Go Racing Nathans Memorial).
“Probably the only negative is that he won’t get a chance to go right-handed before the Auckland Cup, but I think he’ll be fine,” Sharrock said.
“He had a week off after the Wellington Cup but had a run along the other day and didn’t blow, so he’s retained his fitness since then.”
Ladies Man will be aiming to emulate his half-sister Ladies First, the Dylan Thomas mare that Sharrock prepared to win the Auckland Cup in 2018.
Also heading to the Nathans Memorial will be stablemate Waisake, the 2020 Wellington Cup winner who finished 10th this year in the hands of Opie Bosson.
“Opie said when he tried to push the button on Waisake at the half-mile mark he was hopeless in the conditions, and he got galloped on three times,” Sharrock said.
“He had a puffy back leg for four or five days but got back on top of that. He’ll go to Te Rapa with Ladies Man and then go for the New Zealand St Leger at Trentham.”
Sharrock’s third Wellington Cup runner, Southroad, won’t head to Te Rapa but will probably seek some lower targets.
“Southroad was probably the horse that should have won the race. He ran the quickest 800 and 600 and ended up right down on the inside in the worst of it for sixth,” Sharrock said.
“I thought it was a really top effort and he’ll probably have a couple more runs in the autumn and then aim for the New Zealand Cup next season.”
It’s been an unfortunate few weeks for Sharrock’s team on the track, as along with the unsuitably wet Wellington Cup, his exciting four-year-old Shamus missed a planned outing at New Plymouth on February 4.
“He had an elevated temperature and was late scratched that day, which frustrated the hell out of me,” Sharrock said.
Shamus has since returned to training and will probably be aimed at the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham on March 18.
“I’ll have a look at what’s left in the season, but this was always going to be a quieter season for him and we’ll concentrate on bigger prizes with him next season,” Sharrock said.
“He’s a serious racehorse and I’m pretty happy with him, but he’s still growing into the horse he can be.”
Meanwhile, Sharrock has seven horses nominated for the New Plymouth meeting on Friday: Sumi in a Rating 75 1200m event, Carmenere in a Rating 65 1800m contest, and the maidens Heir Apparent, Bionda, I Don’t, Cream, and Tavi Ann.
“Sumi’s a quality mare who had no luck last season and got injured in a jumpout two months ago, so she will be ready to run well,” Sharrock said.
“Heir Apparent is a first starter who won a jumpout and was second in a trial, Bionda’s doing well, Cream should be competitive at a mile – she bolted last start so we’ve taken the blinkers off her, and Tavi Ann raced really well last start.
“They are all each way chances without getting carried away.”