A stirring gallop at New Plymouth has given Allan Sharrock all the reassurance he needs about Waisake’s readiness for back-to-back victories in one of New Zealand’s premier staying tests.
Waisake is a clear favourite for the Gr.3 New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport Wellington Cup (3200m) following his stirring victory in the Gr.3 Mode Technology Trentham Stakes (2100m) on January 15.
It was his first sign of form following four lead-up runs but it confirmed he was close to the peak that resulted in his Wellington Cup victory last year.
“What buoyed me most was that it was a very tidy field, and he’s run 33.61 for the last 600,” Sharrock said.
“I couldn’t be happier with his work this morning, and his recovery was great. I’ve done my job, and now it’s just keeping him right till the weekend.”
Adding to Sharrock’s confidence is the booking of leading big-race jockey Opie Bosson, fresh from victory in the Karaka Million, to ride the seven-year-old.
“He’s been a good mate for many years, and he hasn’t won a Wellington Cup before, so it would be good to tick that box for him,” Sharrock said.
Waisake last year won the cup by half a length from longshot South Islander Bluey’s Chance, who is set to be an opponent again.
Sharrock said he hadn’t decided on where Waisake would head after the Wellington Cup.
“The Sydney Cup (Gr.1, 3200m) is a possibility, but there are travel constraints potentially there, and he’s also got an Auckland Cup (Gr.2, 3200m) nomination,” he said.
“We’ll just get through Saturday and work out the next option after that.”
Sharrock’s other runner at Trentham will be Tavattack, who is set to contest a Rating 65 event over 1200m.
Tavattack has run twice this season for two second-place finishes, at Awapuni on December 11 and Trentham on January 15.
“He’s probably a 2000m horse in waiting but he’s racing super at the moment,” Sharrock said.
“He’s a late-maturing horse and he’ll be better next year and the year after. I can see him being a cup horse – he’s by Tavistock so the more ground he goes over the better he’ll be, but at this stage we’re just keeping him fresh and sprinting him.
“He was a little bit stiff the first day at Trentham and I expect him to run well again.”
Meanwhile, Sharrock is looking forward to contesting the Gr.2 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 2 with current Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) co-favourite Shamus.
He extended his unbeaten record to four in the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham on January 15 and Sharrock is hoping his winning run continues.
“We’re throwing him in the deep end but we’re going to find out one way or another. If he can cope with the 2000m we’ll go forward to the Derby, and if he doesn’t we’ll freshen and go back to the Levin Classic (Gr.1, 1600m),” Sharrock said.
“On pedigree you wouldn’t think he would stay, but I don’t think I’ve had a more laid-back three-year-old. At three they can prove you wrong.
“Probably with age he won’t go past a mile. Wahid (who won the New Zealand Derby for Sharrock in 2006) was very similar – he was the best three-year-old and he got the 2400m, so I’m just hoping I’ve got one like him that can do it again.”