Te Akau Racing will continue their southern spring assault at Riccarton on Saturday, where they have a number of leading chances.
Trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson will be represented by Viva Vienna and Rhetorical in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m), with the pair having finished first and third respectively when first-up over 1000m at the Christchurch track earlier this month.
“They have done well since September 2, when they ran,” Bergerson said.
“Viva Vienna’s performance was really good. That horse (Illicit Dreams) came up beside her to beat her and she toughed it out. She loves the gritty fight.
“I have spoken with Ashley (Handley, stable foreperson) and she was really happy with her work on Tuesday morning.
“She has drawn one, which is ideal, she should get a lovely run from there.
“Rhetorical will need to have improved a little bit to beat Viva Vienna and the Kenny Rae runner (Illicit Dreams), but we are really happy with her. She has a nice barrier (3) and Warren Kennedy aboard really helps as well.
“It will be good to add some more black-type to her pedigree.”
Viva Vienna is a $1.90 favourite for the Canterbury Belle Stakes, ahead of Illicit Dreams at $3.80 and Rhetorical is on the third line of betting at $7.50.
Stablemates The Mighty Spar and Prismatic will continue their march toward the Gr.3 Martin Collins New Zealand Cup (3200m) when they line-up in the Commodore Hotel Rating 75 (2000m).
“The Mighty Spar just lets himself down in the barrier unfortunately, but we thought he was good first-up here resuming after a small break here at Matamata, and Prismatic won really well,” Bergerson said.
“Prismatic gets in well in the 75 grade and up to 2000m should suit them both.
“Hopefully this is a good springboard and if they run nice enough races, we can map out a plan to the New Zealand Cup.”
Later on the card, last start winner Challa will be vying to continue is fine southern form in the Crawford Developments Open (1200m).
“It’s not his first foray down to the South Island, he seems to really enjoy it down there,” Bergerson said.
“He has got a really good record with apprentices on him. He is pretty straight forward, he sort of bounces and heads toward the front and puts himself there. With Ngakau (Hailey, apprentice jockey) on, the four-kilo claim will really suit him.
“He will be in that first bunch and he should give a really good sight. He has trained on well since his impressive first-up victory.”
Meanwhile, Bergerson is looking forward to heading to Te Rapa on Sunday where Te Akau will have half a dozen runners, including Group One winner On The Bubbles, who will contest the the PS Brown Construction Sprint (1200m).
“That field has come up pretty sharp, there are some good gallopers in it, so we will get a good line on him,” Bergerson said.
“We thought his first-up run was good (for third over 1200m). He was actually slow away, which is quite unusual for him. He has come through it well, we were pleased with the run. We will know a lot more after Sunday.
“He has come back from a wind operation and we think he is in a good vein of form here at home, so he should be really competitive in that race."