Emphatic last-start winner Grail Seeker will lead the Wexford Stables charge at Te Rapa on Saturday where she will step into stakes company, contesting the Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial 3YO (1500m).
The daughter of Iffraaj showed promise early in her first two raceday appearances and justified her favouritism with horse racing bookmakers last start when cruising home by 4.5 lengths under little encouragement from Niranjan Parmar, who retains the ride on Saturday.
“We’re confident she’ll run the trip and should be strong in the finish, so we’re hopeful for a good performance,” said Andrew Scott, who trains in partnership with Lance O’Sullivan.
“She’s certainly got to step up again on Saturday. She’s just been lacking confidence as well but she’s starting to find rhythm in her racing, which gives her more turn-of-foot at the end.
“She’s back on a track where she performed well last start, Parmar knows her well now and the draw gives her a big aid.”
The daughter of Iffraaj leads the market for the three-year-old feature, with About Time on the second line of betting at $5.50.
Scott is looking forward to commencing talented gelding Waitak’s new campaign in the Ag Build 1300 as he returns from a spell after a strong three-year-old season.
A Group One-placed juvenile, the son of Proisir was victorious in the Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial (1500m) at the Te Rapa meeting last season before being dual Group Two-placed and recording a game fifth in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) as a three-year-old.
Scott and O’Sullivan opted to test his abilities across the ditch with a four-race stint over the Queensland Winter Carnival where a mixed bag of results included a commendable seventh in the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) behind Kiwi-bred Kovalica.
“He had quite a lengthy three-year-old preparation so we gave him quite a decent break, hence why he’s just getting going now,” Scott said.
“He’s had two exercise trials and we’ve been very pleased with both. He’s worked well since and he’s certainly a more solid individual now being a year older.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with how he is heading into a new campaign and whilst 1300m might be a bit sharp and short of his best trip, he should sprint well on the fresh side.”
Waitak’s Te Rapa assignment is a qualifying race for the Stella Artois 1500 Championship on Boxing Day, where the four-year-old holds a nomination alongside a loftier target in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham in January.
“He’s in the early part of his preparation so we’ll just take it race-by-race, but with the good prizemoney over summer he should have a really good campaign ahead,” Scott said.
“We’re just really looking forward to getting him going on the weekend.”
Among Wexford’s four other runners at Te Rapa is another promising three-year-old in Tanganyika after recording his maiden victory on debut at Taupo under Parmar.
“He had a lovely trip in his debut there and he’s drawn favourably again, which is good with an inexperienced horse,” Scott said.
“He’s another Ace High that has shown good ability, he’s gone the right way in his coat and condition post his debut and he should run well again.
“He’s a really nice, athletic horse that should get over a good mile. Once he’s got a bit more experience and confidence, he’s got the makings of a really nice horse.”
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