Multiple Group One winning trainer Roydon Bergerson is looking forward to what could potentially be his most lucrative weekend in racing when he ventures to Ellerslie on Saturday.
The Palmerston North horseman has leading contender Wolverine in the Doubletree By Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and improving galloper Reign It In in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
Long-time favourite Wolverine ($3.80, barrier 12) has been usurped at the head of the market by Dynastic ($3.50, barrier 4) with punters gravitating to the proven combination of Jamie Richards and Opie Bosson with the latter runner after Wolverine drew wide on Wednesday.
Bergerson remains bullish about the chances of the undefeated Wolverine, who boasts victories in both the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) and Gr.2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at her most recent outings.
“I’d rather be out a little bit with her than drawn on the fence, she's hasn’t got any early speed in the race so hopefully we can settle midfield and get some cover,” Bergerson said.
“Her work on Tuesday was excellent and she has maintained her condition well. After each of her races she has had three or four days in the paddock at Chris Rutten’s (part-owner) place.
“She comes back in and it’s the same routine the last couple of times, it seems to be working.”
The daughter of Tivaci, who was purchased by Bergerson in conjunction with astute horseman Chris Rutten for $50,000 as a yearling from the draft of Waikato Stud, these days sports the colours of Australian Bloodstock who bought into the talented juvenile after her maiden victory.
While Bergerson remains amongst the ownership, the longer term future for Wolverine will be in Australia with the filly to join Kris Lees this season.
“There’s a chance, if she wins or ran a good race, that she’ll have a freshen up and have a crack at the Manawatu Sires (Gr.1, 1400m) but the new part-owners do want to get her across the Tasman,” Bergerson said.
The Awapuni conditioner also has time for Reign It In, who will start long-odds the three-year-old feature and has been luckless in a number of his races.
“I thought he probably should’ve won the other day at Awapuni to be fair. It’s just taken a long time for the penny to drop with him. It will keep him thinking on Saturday going the other way around (right-handed) for the first time, but his works been good this way around.
“I’m happy with his form and his condition, he’s a roughie but I don’t know if he should be paying $51. It's not an overly strong field if you took the top weight out (On The Bubbles), it is pretty even really.
“Hopefully with the big field there will be genuine tempo because he likes to settle back and round off pretty strongly. He’s got a good turn of foot when he lets down.”
New Zealand has three races contested for $1 million, with the two Karaka features only matched financially by the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m), and Bergerson is excited by the prospect of having contenders in all three, with Nest Egg, who runs at Trentham on Saturday very much on-track for the Derby.
“We’ve only got 18 in work at the moment and three of them look like they're going to run in the three big races for the season so it's quite exciting,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for the family, my kids have got a few shares.
“My oldest son Sam, who is Assistant Trainer at Te Akau, has got shares in Wolverine plus all his mates are in Reign It In. It’ll be a pretty big night if one or both of them put their foot in the till.”
In addition to Nest Egg, who contests the Cosmopolitan And Workingmen’s Clubs 1600, Bergerson will have Bradman and Stormcast line up at Trentham, and all three are winning chances.
“The team are starting to hit their straps since the tracks have come good. They’re all working really well so hopefully we have a big day, you never know in this game though, it can knock you down straight away,” Bergerson said.
That statement is quickly evidenced by the departure of quality galloper Sindacato, who has joined the Chris Waller stable in the past week after winning two of five starts for Bergerson with a further three placings including finishing third to quality galloper Bankers Choice at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and subsequent winner Carolina Reaper. .
“He’s a very good horse. It is a shame to lose a horse like that out of our stable, I think he was a Group horse. He was a bit unlucky in the Stella Artois Championship (1500m), if he got the run the favourite got, I think he might have won.”