Great Northern aspirations with Wise Men Say

Wanganui trainer Raymond Connors has taken out two of the last three editions of the Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) with quality jumper Wise Men Say (NZ) (Yamanin Vital), and the marathon feature is once again his main target this year.

The 11-year-old son of Yamanin Vital has finished fifth in his two starts over hurdles this preparation and Connors is happy with the way his gelding is tracking.

He will contest the LJ Hooker Manawatu Steeplechase (4400m) at Awapuni on Saturday where he has been lumbered with 71kg, 4.5kg more than his nearest rival.

“We were pretty pleased with him in his first two runs, he went well,” Connors said. “Going over the bigger fences he will hopefully be a bit more competitive.

“He likes Palmy and heavy tracks, so there is a bit in his favour. If he is thereabouts on Saturday I will be happy.”

A tilt at the Pakuranga Hunt Cup (4900m) at Ellerslie on October 4 is firmly on the cards for Wise Men Say, a race he finished runner-up in 2017.

“The Great Northern is a race that has been good to us and one we would dearly love to win again this year,” Connors said.

“We will head up to Auckland for the Pakuranga Hunt Cup or a race like that before the Northern, but we will see how he goes on Saturday.”

Connors will also line-up fellow 11-year-old Mesmerize (NZ) (Yamanin Vital) in the Cody Singer Memorial Steeplechase (3200m).

The son of Yamanin Vital has finished fifth and fourth in his first two outings this preparation and Connors is hoping for an improved performance on Saturday.

“He was a touch disappointing last time,” Connors said. “He has been around a bit now and there will be no excuses on Saturday.”

Stablemate Kion (NZ) (No Excuse Needed) will attempt to break maiden ranks on Saturday in the James Hardie Maiden Hurdles (2800m).

“He was a bit disappointing last time (when sixth) so I am hoping for a better run on Saturday,” Connors said. “It’s not a bad maiden hurdle field, so he has got it up against him a little bit.”

Connors will have two runners competing on the flat on Saturday, including Our Cuzzie (NZ) (Ekraar) who will make his debut in the IPL Plywood & Nelson Pine Industries Maiden (2200m).

“It’s a bit of an ask for him, but we will see what he is made of,” Connors said. “I am hoping he will get the distance, he is fit enough to race.”

While Connors is more hopeful than confident with Our Cuzzie, he is more upbeat about the chances of consistent galloper Hurry Cane (NZ) (Nom Du Jeu).

The last start winner has only been unplaced once in his 13 career starts and Connors is hoping to keep that solid form line intact this weekend.

“He is a pretty consistent horse,” he said. “It’s a very similar race to last time, he’s just got a bit more weight, which might slow him up a bit.

“He is a really good horse to have in the stable. He is very honest, so there is no reason why he shouldn’t go as well as he has been on Saturday.

“I expect another good run from him.”

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