Mark Walker has tentatively planned two steps ahead with his trio of Group One winners Entriviere, Imperatriz and On The Bubbles.
Te Akau’s head trainer will run all three of his spring contenders in this Saturday’s open 1100m handicap at Ruakaka and they are then likely to head to the Gr.2 Waikato Stud Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa.
“They are all going well and we felt there should be a reasonable track up there at Ruakaka and then its three weeks into the Foxbridge Plate,” Walker said.
“Just in case it might be quite wet for the Foxbridge, they will at least have had a run on a decent track and a bit more fitness under their belts.”
They are all in the market for the first Group One contest of the season at Hastings in the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) on September 10 with Imperatriz the $4 favourite and Entriviere and On The Bubbles share the third line at $8, but starts have yet to be locked in stone.
“We’ve got a bit of time yet and we are just taking it one race at a time and obviously the weather will have a bearing on what we do,” Walker said.
“At this stage, all three will run on Saturday and into the Foxbridge and then we’ll make a call on the Tarzino after that.”
The Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) winner Entriviere was unplaced in the Gr.1 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) at her last appearance after finishing third in the Gr.1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m).
Imperatriz claimed top-flight titles in her last two appearances in the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) and the Levin Classic (1600m) while former top juvenile On The Bubbles, successful in the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m), was a last-start fourth in the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m).
The Ruakaka meeting will also mark the return of stable rider Opie Bosson after a break and he will partner Imperatriz.
“Entriviere will probably be ridden on Saturday by Niranjan Parmar and he will claim 3kg, Imperatriz will be Opie and Joe Kamaruddin will ride On The Bubbles,” Walker said.
Walker will have a big team of horses in action at the Te Rapa trials on Thursday, originally set down for Tuesday but deferred to give the track a chance to recover and dry out.
Among them will be Burgundy’s daughter Belle En Rouge, who was one of last season’s star fillies, and quality mare Amarelinha.
“Belle En Rouge will be there and she might run at Ruakaka on September 20th, there is an open 1400m handicap there for her,” Walker said.
“It’s early days so we’ve got nothing definitely planned, again the weather will be dictating what we do with her.”
Burgundy’s daughter Belle En Rouge capped off her lucrative three-year-old campaign with victory in the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).
Amarelinha, whose last win was in the 2021 Oaks at Trentham, hasn’t been seen out since she was fifth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m).
“She will trial and she might also run in that sprint at Ruakaka, the same as Belle En Rouge,” Walker said.
Meanwhile, another quality performer in Self Obsession isn’t quite as forward, although she has returned to Walker’s care.
She finished runner-up to Belle En Rouge in the Oaks last season off the back of a hat-trick of Group Two victories in the Lowland Stakes (2000m), David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) and Royal Stakes (2000m).
“She chipped a knee in the Oaks so she had surgery and is back in training now,” Walker said.