By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Chief Of Staff will be out to claim his first stakes scalp on Sunday when he lines up in the Group 3 Majestic Son DG Jones Banks Peninsula Cup (2810m) at Motukarara Raceway.
The eight-year-old gelding was runner-up in the race last year behind former stablemate Mataderos, when trained by Robert and Jenna Dunn, and went on to place in the Group 3 Canterbury Park Cup (2600m) and ran fourth in the Group 1 Dominion (3200m).
Chief Of Staff has since returned to the care of previous trainers Jason and Ian Thomas, for whom he has had two starts this preparation – runner-up behind Mataderos over 2600m at Addington earlier this month before he returned to the Christchurch track last week to finish sixth over 1980m, a distance well short of his best.
“It was a nice run first-up,” Ian Thomas said. “He was a run short with it being his first run back. The next run we put him in a 1980m, which didn’t suit him. It was another fitness run which should see him right for Sunday.
“He is sound, fit, this race will suit him. He ran second in it last year and I think he will go pretty good again.”
Originally trained by Jason Thomas on his own account, The Pres gelding has won nine and placed in 23 of his 69 starts, and Thomas senior said he has continued to improve throughout his career.
“We have had him for a long time and he is just getting better with age. The Pres’ are a bit like that,” he said.
Chief Of Staff, who will start from behind the 10m tape with regular driver Zachary Butcher in the bike, is on the fourth line of betting with TAB bookmakers, who have installed Mataderos (20m) a $2.10 favourite for the race ahead of Matua Tana (10m) at $3.60, and Oscar Bonavena (30m) at $5.50.
Thomas has been pleased with Chief Of Staff’s progress this preparation and he is looking forward to heading toward the Dominion in November with his charge, for which
“The Dominion will be his main aim and he will go to another one in a couple of weeks at Addington (for the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup),” he said.