Exciting three-year-old Scorpz will be tested over 2000m for the first time at Ellerslie on Sunday in preparation for the Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) in February. The Stephen Marsh-trained colt will attempt to make it back-to-back stakes wins when he contests the Listed Hynds 3YO Salver (2100m).
The son of Charm Spirit was able to hold out Shenanigans in the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) at Otaki last start and Marsh is hoping for a repeat performance. “He has taken a little while to click to it all, but his last two runs have been very good, so I am very excited about his chances,” Marsh said. “He galloped up on Tuesday morning on the course proper and I thought his work was really good. “Getting him up over ground is the key to him, he’s really going well. He has gone the right way since that last win.”
Marsh, who also part-owns Scorpz, is looking forward to stepping him up over ground this weekend. “We think he will definitely stay, but you never know until you get them up over ground,” Marsh said. “He is nominated for the Derby, and that’s the path he is on.” Scorpz has been installed as a $2.50 favourite by TAB bookmakers ahead of Tibetan at $4.40.
Marsh will also be targeting black-type races on Saturday with a trio of runners. At Awapuni, Elisa Carolina will contest the Group 3 Lawnmaster Eulogy Stakes (1600m), while at Te Rapa, Campari and Pierina will line-up in the Group 3 J Swap Contractors Sprint (1400m).
Elisa Carolina is also nominated for Ellerslie on Sunday, but Marsh said the three-year-old filly would likely travel south to try and earn some black-type. It will be the second raceday start for the daughter of Makfi, who finished unplaced over 1400m at Rotorua on debut. “She trialled up nicely (before her debut), but she probably just found the track a bit firm for her, so hopefully that’s not the case on Saturday,” Marsh said. “She was a late nomination for the Eulogy. We are just having a throw at the stumps and we are very keen to try and get black-type with her. “It’s a big ask, but if she could snare a little bit of black-type that would be outstanding for her and the step up in trip should suit.”
Further north, Marsh believes both Campari and Pierina are solid chances in their Group Three assignment at Te Rapa. Campari heads into the race off the back of a last start placing in the Listed Counties Bowl (1100m), while Pierina was victorious over 1400m last start after a luckless run in the Group 2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m). “Both get in on the minimum (53kg) and both runs last start were very good,” Marsh said. “In an even line-up I think they are both definite chances of adding to their black-type tally.”