Grant Cooksley will get a true guide to the ability of promising three-year-old Yes We Khan when he contests the Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial 3YO (1500m) at Te Aroha on Saturday.
Yes We Khan looked like a good staying prospect when he won at Pukekohe on November 11, switching ground and taking gaps willingly before outstaying his opponents over 1400m.
Cooksley, who trains the son of Mongolian Khan in partnership with Bruce Wallace at Byerley Park, knew he would be facing better opposition at Te Aroha, but it’s turned out to be a deeper field than anticipated.
Among those nominated are unbeaten Gr.2 Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) winner Pareanui Bay, black type winner Lady Maroal, and the exciting fillies La Crique, La Bella Beals, Aquacade, and Just Dance.
“He should go a good race, though it’s a little bit stronger than I thought it would be,” Cooksley said of Yes We Khan, who will be ridden by Leith Innes on Saturday.
“He’s got to step up so we can judge how he’s going, whether he’s going to improve and how good he actually is.”
Bought for $10,000 from the Highview Stud draft in Book 2 of the 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales at Karaka, Yes We Khan is by multiple Derby winner Mongolian Khan out of the Pentire mare Nothing But A Grin, a sister to Australian Guineas winner Ferlax.
He holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March and Cooksley said that would be his principal three-year-old aim.
“All his breeding says he wants 2000m and further, and he’s getting stronger and stronger,” Cooksley said.
“It was a good win last time, he’s still learning what it’s all about. He relaxes well in his races and he’s coming along quite well.”
Meanwhile, the stable’s best older horse Gino Severini returned to racing from a brief let-up in the Listed Counties Bowl (1100m) at Te Rapa last week, dashing home from well back to finish fifth behind Levante.
The eight-year-old showed a real zest for racing in early spring, finishing second in the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m), fourth in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m), and third in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) before his break.
“It was a very good run last Saturday with 60 kilos on his back and he got home really well,” Cooksley said.
Gino Severini will be kept to races between 1400m and 1600m for the immediate future, preferably without having to travel away from the northern region. His next race likely to be the Gr.3 J Swap Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on December 11.
Another to impress from the Cooksley-Wallace team at Te Rapa last weekend was Sacred Satono, who ran well for second behind the highly-rated Bright Blue Sky in the Listed Fasttrack Insurance 2YO Stakes (1100m).
A $34,000 purchase from the Rich Hill Stud draft at Book 2 of the 2021 National Yearling Sale, Sacred Satono had earlier finished second on debut behind Think Twice.
“He’s gone out for a few days after that run,” Cooksley said. “From here we’re going to focus on getting ready for the Karaka Million.”
With $18,500 in prizemoney from his first two starts, Sacred Satono is from the first crop of exciting young Deep Impact stallion Satono Aladdin, and is all but guaranteed a place in the Karaka Million field.
“He’s still a little bit immature, so he will be better as a three-year-old. He’s a really relaxed horse and nothing seems to worry him,” Cooksley said.