Jason Waddell winning the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) aboard Wyndspelle Photo: Grant Matthew (Race Images Palmerston North)
Jason Waddell is confident his red-hot run of form can continue at Trentham on Saturday, particularly when he climbs aboard his two favourites, Julius (NZ) (Swiss Ace) and Wyndspelle (NZ) (Iffraaj), in the Group One features on the card.
The Cambridge jockey has had a notable run of success since Christmas Day, kicking home 14 winners from 33 rides, including seven wins from 11 mounts within the last week.
“It’s been going great,” Waddell said. “I’ve been riding nice horses for in-form stables and been on so many good ones.
“I’ve been trying to manage my rides and weight to ride further into the season and not burn out.
“I’m restricting myself to a maximum of five rides a day and I have not been riding at all the meetings.”
Waddell kicked home five winners in succession last weekend, scoring on Tavi Mac (NZ) (Tavistock) and Jewel Of Patch (I Am Invincible) at Trentham (his only rides on Saturday) then Run To Perfection (Sepoy), Pimlico (NZ) (Proisir) and Lincoln King (NZ) (Shocking) at Ellerslie.
The most memorable of his 14 wins since Christmas Day was the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day aboard Julius, his mount on Saturday in the Gr.1 JR and N Berkett Telegraph (1200m).
That notable victory on John Bell’s stable star was Waddell’s 11th Group One win of his career and his previous Group One triumph was a month earlier at Trentham in the Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) on Wyndspelle, his mount in Saturday’s Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m).
“To be riding my two favourites, Julius and Wyndspelle, on the same card will be special,” Waddell said.
“No matter the results, it’s going to be a fun day and I’m going to enjoy the day. It’s not often you get to ride two favourites in Group Ones.”
Waddell is happy to report Julius has thrived since he registered his ninth and most important win from 16 starts in an interrupted career.
“I ride him every day during the week and he has come through the Railway even better than expected,” Waddell said.
“He had a run-along last Friday over 1000m at three-quarter pace, speeding up the last 600m in 38.
“It was perfect work to stretch his legs and he’ll work in company before Saturday.”
The Railway and the Telegraph are the first two legs of the New Zealand Bloodstock Sprint Triple Crown and the final leg is the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on February 8.
There is a $100,000 bonus for any horse that can win all three legs, leaving a tempting carrot hanging in front of Julius’ connections.
“It’ll be up to John (Bell) whether he runs in the sprint at Te Rapa, too,” Waddell said. “He’s got nothing left to prove. We’ll have to see how he comes through the Telegraph.
“If he did run in it, that would be the end of this campaign. He could have a big break and possibly come back for the Foxbridge Plate (Gr.2, 1200m) at Te Rapa then the first two legs at Hawke’s Bay (the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy, 1400m, and the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate, 1600m).
“I do believe he can get the mile.”
On Saturday Waddell will be chasing consecutive Thorndon Mile wins, having won last year’s event on Shadows Cast (NZ) (Per Incanto).
He was given the choice between Shadows Cast and Wyndspelle for Saturday’s Thorndon Mile, just as he was when the pair last met in the Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) on the same course and Waddell guided Wyndspelle to a decisive win.
“I’m grateful that I was offered the ride back on Shadows Cast,” Waddell said. “He’s been very good to me, but I didn’t want to get off Wyndspelle. He’s such a favourite.”
Wyndspelle hasn’t raced since the Captain Cook Stakes with trainers Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard electing to bypass the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie.
“I spoke to Johno at Trentham last Saturday and he’s happy with him,” Waddell said.
“I’m happy with the decision not to run in the Zabeel Classic.”
Waddell’s five confirmed mounts for Trentham on Saturday also include Prince Albert (NZ) (Savabeel), the promising stayer from Stephen Marsh’s stable he rode to a seven and a half-length win over 2100m at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Looking beyond Wellington Cup Day, Waddell is excited over Pimlico’s prospects in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Saturday week and also being booked for Dragon Leap (Pierro) in the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 8 and Scorpz (NZ) (Charm Spirit) in the Gr.2 Jamison Park Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie a week later.
All three horses are last-start winners holding nominations for the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on February 29. Dragon Leap is the $2.80 TAB Fixed Odds favourite following his win in the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, while Scorpz is on the third line of betting at $10 and Pimlico at $21.
“Pimlico is a tough, front-running horse who will be a nice Karaka Million 3YO ride,” Waddell said.
“I’m looking forward to riding Dragon Leap in the Waikato Guineas and Scorpz is going to have a start in an open mile between times and he will have a light weight, too light for me to ride him. But I’ll be back on in the Avondale Guineas.
“It will be good to get a line on all three looking towards the Derby.”
Waddell has ridden Scorpz in his last two wins and he has also had the experience of riding the country’s top filly, Travelling Light (NMr Stunning has been runner-up in the past two editions of the G1 feature. Photo: HKJC Z) (El Roca), when winning Ellerslie’s Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m), the lead-up to her win last Saturday in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham.
“She’s an amazing filly,” Waddell said. “I’ve ridden a lot of good fillies and she’s right up there with the best. She’s got all the qualities of a top filly.”