Rising eight-year-old Sultan Of Swing (NZ) (Bachelor Duke) showed he still has the zest for racing when winning a 900m trial at Te Rapa on Tuesday and the Shaune Ritchie-trained gelding is on target for an early season feature.
A Group One placegetter and winner of 10 races, Sultan Of Swing will be aimed at the Gr.2 Valachi Downs Foxbridge Plate (1200m) back at Te Rapa on September 5 and could have a raceday outing before that.
“He hasn’t raced since he ran second to Melody Belle in the Tarzino (Gr.1, 1400m) last year,” Ritchie said.
“We thought he was flying before COVID, he had a couple of really cruisy trials and he certainly lost none of his willingness to be a racehorse.
“It was nice to see him win on the bridle yesterday and he’ll go to the Foxbridge Plate but he may turn up here on Saturday week.
“He loves Te Rapa and provided he’s not completely weighted out of it, we’ll give that some thought depending on what the handicap looks like.”
Depending on his performance in the Foxbridge Plate, Sultan Of Swing might attempt to go one better in the Tarzino Trophy on September 19, the first leg of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown.
“He’s probably not in a great place in the handicaps anyway so he’ll almost certainly run in the first leg (at Hawke’s Bay) and he’s nominated for all three,” Ritchie said.
“He’s an older horse now. We’re not selling him or protecting him for anything so we might as well have a crack. It’s a bit of shame for him that some of the stars might end up staying here because of access issues to Australia.”
Meanwhile, Group One winning stablemate Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) headed to Ruakaka on Wednesday morning and will spend a bit of time in the winterless north before trialling at the venue next Tuesday.
“She won’t run in the Foxbridge Plate,” Ritchie said. “We’ll probably give her an exhibition gallop or trial her again, then she’ll go to Hastings fresh-up.
“If the borders open, then we’ll look at going straight over to Australia after that.”