Foxton trainer Gail Temperton is looking forward to an exciting week across the Central Districts, first with her diminutive jumping talent Harry Harrison (NZ) (Haradasun) contesting the Tararua Hedge Cutting Ltd Open Hurdle (3000m) at Woodville on Thursday.
The Haradasun eight-year-old has shown his affinity for the hurdle fences this season, taking victories at Waverley and again when stepping into open company at Hawera last start.
“Harry is quite a unique individual, he’s very small and I’m a bit concerned about the heavy track and the increased weight for him, but I do know he’ll do his best and be ably ridden by Mat Cropp,” Temperton said.
“At the start of the season I couldn’t find him a jockey, so he had to miss a few races because nobody knew him and we are short of jumps jockeys, but I can tell you there’s a preference for him now.”
Temperton considered making the journey to Te Rapa for the Great Northern Hurdle (4200m) after the gelding’s hot run of form, but elected to put those plans aside for next year in favour of the final jumps meeting of the year at Woodville.
“I did consider it (Northern), but he’s only just turned eight and I felt he would be better off doing that next year,” she said.
Temperton will also prepare Harry Harrison’s older half-brother Cheeky Azz (NZ) (Zed) for the Marty & Di Maiden Hurdle (3000m), where he reverts back from the steeplechase fences last start.
“He’s similar to Harry, he’s not quite as tough as him but I think he’ll give it a good shot tomorrow,” Temperton said.
“The same applies to the track, they’re both small horses so the mud is their chief problem, but he’ll be up on the speed for a long way.”
Temperton will also be represented at Hawera on Saturday in a competitive Gr.3 Grangewilliam Stud Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) with Royal Flower (NZ) (Proisir), a mare that has produced five wins from 14 starts.
The daughter of Proisir had an awkward fresh-up run at Woodville with interference shortly after the start putting her back to the tail of the field, but produced the fastest final 600m and 400m of the Rating 75 1200m event.
“I was very disappointed in her fresh-up run, her beginning was very unusual for her. She jumped from the outside draw and collided with Sophmaze and was off balance for a while,” Temperton said.
“Her sectionals following the first (200m) were very good, she was the fastest through the middle section of the race.”
The five-year-old will face some top-flight competition in the Hawera feature in Group One-winning mares Prowess (NZ) (Proisir) and Belclare (NZ) (Per Incanto), alongside multiple Group Two-winner Darci La Bella (NZ) (Darci Brahma), but the heavy surface gives Temperton faith in her charge.
“It’s a very tough field, it’s not called the Breeders’ for nothing, but she’s a good mare and I hope she’ll be back on her best form on Saturday and there’s certainly nothing that makes me think she’s not, she’s been working well,” she said.
“I don’t know how some of them will handle it (the track), I know Darci La Bella handles it but Royal Flower will be better on the soft track than the hard at Woodville.”
Following Saturday’s test, Royal Flower may be set for a step-up in distance as Temperton recognised her dam, Ishidanzin (NZ) (Ishiguru) was best over further ground.
“This Breeders’ has been my goal for a long time, and we’ll probably see how we go but it may be that she’s looking for further distance now,” Temperton said.
“She showed us some funny things at Woodville, I trained her mother and she was best over 2000m so it may be that she’s looking for a mile or further after the Breeders’.”