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Scene set for good day’s racing

Black-type racing has attracted a strong contingent of visiting horses and top jockeys for tomorrow’s Waitangi Day races at Tauherenīkau.

Taking pride of place is the listed Clubs NZ @ The Races Wairarapa Breeders Stakes for fillies and mares, which carries a stake of $80000 and has drawn a full field of 14, including four northern raiders.

The TAB Bonus Back Wairarapa Cup for $25000 and the Entain NZB Insurance Pearl Series are other features on the nine-race card, while most of the remaining races have attracted good fields, to the delight of Wairarapa Racing Club general manager Matt Sherry.

“There are a lot of northern trainers, some great jockeys, and it’s all shaping up pretty well,” Sherry said

“There’s the Breeders Stakes, and that’s black type, and there’s the Wairarapa Cup, which has a lot of history. We’re the only meeting on the day; the corporates are totally sold out, and it’s just come together beautifully.”

Among the jockeys riding are Warren Kennedy, who rode seven winners, including three group races at Pukekohe on New Year’s Day, the in-form Craig Grylls, who rode the Thorndon Mile, Wellington Cup double at Trentham two weeks ago, Joe Doyle, Michael McNab, Matthew Cameron and Sam Weatherley.

The country’s leading trainers, Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson, Roger James and Robert Wellwood, Tony Pike, Chris Wood, and Graham Richardson and Rogan Norvall, are among the visiting northern trainers chasing the spoils. The track was rated a Soft 6 yesterday, and with warm, dry weather forecast, the track could be a Good 3 come race day. Sherry was full of praise for track manager Matia Grace for getting the track in ideal condition given the challenging conditions.

“We haven’t had a lot of rain, and Matia has done a sensational job to get the track to where it is,” he said.

“We got one big dumping, but to maintain it at soft, she’s been working the sprinklers and has done a terrific job, and if it turns out to be a Good 4 on the day, there will be some pretty happy people.”

The popular punters’ club will operate on course, while there is plenty of entertainment for the kids, with train rides, bouncy castles, Zappo the Magician, and other activities.

Let’s have a quick look through the fields and try and tip out a couple of winners.

Race 1 – Number 9 No Bizz [$4] from the Nelson-McDougal stable is the early favourite for the 2050m maiden and comes off a good second at its last start. If omens are your thing, Tuesday [$7] could be the horse for you, or if you follow the local trainers, Ōpaki’s Wayne Jeffcoat lines up Superpompidious, which has Doyle in the saddle and opened at a juicy $21.

Race 2 – Grylls holds the ace card in the second of the 2050m maiden aboard number 11 Underline {$3.60], which brings a fifth and third from its two starts and should be hard to roll.

Race 3 – First starter Detrimental [$2.50] for Hastings trainer John Bary is the hot pot to win the two-year-old maiden. but never underestimate the crack Walker-Bergerson training partnership when they bring a juvenile south, although Kansas Storm [$3.50] was only average when finishing eighth in its only race day outing.

Race 4 – Early favourite Shesellsseashells [$3.60] is the tongue twister for the race commentator Justin Evans in the 1000m maiden. The debutant was impressive in winning a trial and will have the services of McNab for the quick dash. Ōpaki trainer Gerald Innes lines up outsider Barbie Doll for her first start, and a win at $31 would doll up your day.

Race 5 – Voiceover [$4.50] was impressive, winning on the course on January 2 before getting caught wide at Trentham. Vesmart [$9] shows plenty of toe from the gate, and if he gets his own way in front over the 1000m he could be hard to pull back.

Race 6 – Achieve [$4.20] from the James-Wellwood stable, and the Walker-Bergerson trained Devoted [$6] are likely to start favourites in the first of the features, the Wairarapa Cup over 2050m. Ruby Rocks [$10] carries the hopes of Carterton trainer Roger Allen. She had an easy win over 2100m at Ōtaki in December; a repeat could see her in the hunt.

Race 7 – The Wairarapa Breeders Stakes and $5 second-favourite Snazzytavi from the Richardson-Norvall Matamata barn is going for three wins in a row. Sugah Sweet ran a good fourth in the group three Anniversary Handicap at Trentham and represents good value at $12, while stayer Manifique [$13] could threaten if there’s a fast pace over the 1600m.

Race 8 – Sign of Peace from the Pike stable with Grylls in the saddle and paying $5 is hard to go past in the Pearl Series rating 65 over 1600m. Jack the Lass [$7] could be the biggest threat if she starts in this instead of the Breeders Stakes.

Race 9 – Let’s go for a bit of value in the “get out stakes” with number 3 Chairman, who drops back to 1600m after failing at a middle distance, and at $16 would be a great way to finish the day.

The first race will leave the starting gates at 12.16 pm tomorrow. Good luck and good punting!

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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