Top Brass is set to make his return to racing at Ruakaka on Saturday after more than a year away from the track.
The seven-year-old gelding won six of his 16 starts for former trainer Jamie Richards but hasn’t been sighted on raceday since his unplaced run in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) in March last year.
After a period of time on the sidelines, Ruakaka trainer Michelle Bradley was approached earlier this year by his owners to take on the son of Epaulette, and she has enjoyed having him in her barn.
“It has been exciting having him in the stable,” Bradley said.
“He had a wind operation earlier on, so it has been trial and error, but everything has been going well.”
Top Brass had his first public hit-out for Bradley in a 900m trial at Te Rapa a fortnight ago, and his conditioner was pleased with his victory in the hands of apprentice jockey Elen Nicholas.
“He went to the trials a couple of weeks ago where he came out and won,” Bradley said.
“He pulled up really well and he copped the ground down there, which was fantastic, and he has come through it nicely.
“Elen Nicholas rode him and said he was breathing well.”
Bradley has elected to stick with the Waikato hoop and take advantage of her two-kilogram claim after Top Brass was allotted 64kg for Saturday’s Northpine Growing Stronger (1200m).
“He has got the top weight and we have put Elen back on so he will come down to 62kg. He has got a bit of weight to cart but his barrier draw (1) is ideal,” she said.
“The key with him is to keep him relaxed and try not to hold him up so he can keep his breathing in a continuous rhythm.”
Bradley doesn’t have any firm plans with the gelding, opting instead to see how he handles his return to racing this weekend.
“It is race-by-race, especially when they have had these wind operations. The trial the other day was a nice, short and sharp trial and I don’t see 1200m being a problem,” she said.
Bradley will also line-up his half-brother Bosch in the Northbeam Stronger Stuff (2100m).
The son of Pentire takes a good form line into the weekend, having placed in his last two starts, and Bradley is confident he can get the lion’s share of the purse on Saturday.
“I am really happy with his barrier draw (3). Sam Spratt will be back on and she won on him in December,” Bradley said.
“He is extremely well and I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Bosch will be joined in his race by stablemate Current Surge, who also takes a last start placing into Saturday.
“He finished a good third at Pukekohe last Saturday on a Heavy10. I don’t think he is a horse who needs a Heavy10, but he has been going well on them,” Bradley said.
“He will be well placed with the amount of rain we have had on the track up here. He gets back and I would like to see him finishing it off quite strongly.
“He did some quiet striding work this (Wednesday) morning and he was nice and bright, right up on the bit.”
Bradley will also be represented by Dame Lilibic in the 15 July ITM/GIB Northen Winter Championships (1400m).
“I was hoping there would be a maiden race for her up here but there is not, so we are throwing her in the deep end a little bit,” she said.
“We raced her at Cambridge on the synthetic and didn’t get the best barrier draw, so she got caught a bit wide and she was a bit unlucky.
“The step up to 1400m won’t hurt her at all. Being on her home track, it is a good chance to settle her midfield and see if she will run on.”
Bradley is playing the waiting game with Cajun Prince, who requires a couple of scratchings to gain a start in the Northland Business Systems (1100m).
“Cajun Prince hasn’t got the best draw (12) and will need a few scratchings,” she said.
“Being his home track, he will go around if he does get in. He needs to settle a bit more in his races and I think the racing experience will only help him.