Kingsclere Stables will have a slew of stakes representatives this week, with the first set to step out at Otaki on Thursday.
Promising three-year-old Zabmanzor will lead the Cambridge stable’s charge in the Gr.3 Elsdon Park Wellington Stakes (1600m).
The son of Almanzor takes an impressive 3-/14 length victory into the race, but Cambridge trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood are well aware of the step up in company at Otaki this week.
“It is a pretty handy race, there are some nice horses in there,” Wellwood said.
“We couldn’t be happier with where we are at with him and I think the mile is really going to suit him, but it is certainly going to be a test.”
On the undercard, Mark Twain is set to make his raceday return in the Riverbank Construction (1400m), having last raced in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) where he finished fourth and 10th respectively.
While he was set to make a return earlier in the spring, his conditioners elected to give the gelding more time in the paddock. They have been pleased with the way the four-year-old has returned and readied him for his first-up assignment with a 1150m trial at Te Awamutu earlier this month.
“He came in earlier in the year and didn’t really thrive, so we just gave him more time,” Wellwood said.
“He has done really well since then – he looks well and his trial was very good. It was nice to see him jump and put himself in the trial.
“1400m is going to be far short of his best this week but it is a starting point.
“We will just play it by ear and go through the grades and hopefully find our way to a nice race in the autumn with him.”
The stable will also be represented at Otaki by last start runner-up Pizzazz in the UZA Bus (1300m) and Avalene in the Fieldtech Communications (2200m).
“Pizzazz has pretty much had no luck right throughout her career. Hopefully she can get her rub of the green. She is more than capable of winning that race with any luck,” Wellwood said.
“I am really looking forward to seeing Avalene up over further. She has drawn a nice gate (2) and hopefully she can get into a good rhythm and see room. The key to her is seeing her up over ground.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, the stable will have strong stakes representation at Wanganui on Saturday with Pinion in the Listed Steelform Roofing Group Wanganui Cup (2040m) and Orchestral in the Listed The O’Leary’s Fillies Stakes (1340m).
“I hope the weather stays good for Pinion. He is a horse that enjoys a good track,” Wellwood said.
“It has made things hard with Defibrillate coming in there, but he is well, and we are looking forward to the Cups over summer with him.
“I am looking forward to seeing Orchestral come back. She worked really nicely this (Tuesday) morning. It is certainly just a first-up run for her and we are looking forward to some of the nice fillies races over Christmas and the New Year.”
Closer to home at Te Rapa on Saturday, Apostrophe will contest the Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m).
“Her last run was superb up at Pukekohe,” Wellwood said. “Her Achilles heel is that she doesn’t jump away very well. If she can jump and put herself a few steps further forward she is going be right there in the finish.”