Group Three winner Germanicus. Photo: Trish Dunell
Matamata trainer Danica Guy’s immediate focus is on educating some of the younger members of her team, but it will soon turn to spring racing where Guy hopes Group Three winner Germanicus (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) can improve even further.
Guy said the mood at the Matamata track is generally positive post lockdown.
“Everyone is just getting on with it and obviously we have got things to catch up on,” she said.
“I’ve probably got more in work now than I have ever had at this time of the year, but it is just finishing off the education of the ones that we didn’t quite get through the system when the lockdown happened.
“We had quite a few that I was trying to get through to the trials and get up to scratch with their education and they kind of got put on hold, so I’m working them through the system now before I need to bring too many of the racehorses back in.
“They might not be wet trackers but it won’t do them any harm to go around at the trials on the bridle, so hopefully they will get to the trials and then they can go back to the paddock for three or four weeks before getting ready for next season.
“I don’t have a whole lot of wet trackers. I have probably only got one horse that will handle the wetter ground, so I won’t have very many racing early in the season.”
Guy believes the patiently handled Germanicus can step up again this season after an extended break and she is eagerly awaiting the details around the finalised Racing Calendar before plotting a path with the rising five-year-old.
“He has just come back into the stables this week,” Guy said. “He is going back on the walker at the moment. I am just going to give him a nice long build-up. He has had quite a long time in the paddock which has probably been really good for him.
“He can come up slowly now for the spring as we’re still waiting to see what we’re going to be racing for and what racing is going to look like, so that is a little bit frustrating.”
The winner of the Gr.3 Anniversary Handicap (1600m) this term, the son of Rip Van Winkle stepped through the grades swiftly winning three races in succession before finishing fifth to Avantage (Fastnet Rock) in his final run of the campaign in the Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m).
“He was very mentally immature as a three-year-old,” Guy said. “He was quite a difficult horse to just get his attention and even in his early four-year-old races he was still very inattentive.
“His last two or three starts he really started to put it together and I think he is going to be quite a nice horse this season, just with that extra bit of maturity. He was a bit of a slow learner but because we were patient and didn’t hurry him through it and did let him learn, I think it is going to make him a much better horse now.
“The way he settles, 2000m won’t hold any fears for him but I think he is a pretty effective miler.”
Guy was pleased with Germanicus’ final outing of the season where he was tripped up by an off track.
“His action just doesn’t suit any sort of movement in the ground,” she said. “He needs to go on top of the ground. I was very pleased with the run, it was a solid effort and what we were looking for.
“He handled the trip away really well and I thought he raced really well but he couldn’t quicken like he can on that slightly off track.”
There is a possibility Germanicus could be seen across the Tasman, with Guy mindful of not incurring further ratings points before seeking Australian riches.
“If he is going to go to Australia, we need to be looking at it sooner rather than later,” Guy said.
“We don’t know what stakes we’re going to be running for in New Zealand yet and we can’t let him run around in mediocre races and get more rating points and then try and go over and be weighted highly.”
Lockdown was busy for the Matamata horsewoman who used the time to good effect on her 50 acre property, which also has a track.
“We were lucky,” Guy said. “I’ve got 50 acres here with my own track, not that we used the track. I didn’t have riders going around the track because I respected the fact that they were trying to keep the risk down.
“We had 14 breakers that we hadn’t been able to get to because we were too busy and we pushed through and got all of them done, riding them in the round pen.
“We had horses on the treadmill and on the walker, so we were actually really busy during lockdown.”
Guy is pleased with the young talent she has coming through the stable after taking matters into her own hands.
“Personally, I have invested heavily in bloodstock over the last two years to try and increase the quality of my stable because it just wasn’t coming through the gate,” she said.
“I was looking to trade those horses but now I have got to push the button on them and have some fun with them. I am not sure what the trading market is going to look like in the next six months, it will be interesting to see how it goes.
“If they’re good enough and they win races, then there is going to be interest in them anyway.
“I’ve got some really nice horses coming through the stable.”