An upset win by top Hastings galloper Wait A Sec in last Saturday's Group 3 $70,000 Anniversary Handicap at Trentham has prompted a change of plans for the Postponed 7-year-old.
The Group 1 $500,000 Barfoot & Thomson Auckland Cup is still the main target for the horse but he will now take a slightly different path to that 3200m feature at Ellerslie on March 10.
"He'll now go to the Taranaki Cup next," co-trainer Guy Lowry said this week.
The Group 3 $80,000 Platinum Homes Taranaki Cup is run at New Plymouth on February 3 and will be three weeks to the day after his outstanding win in last Saturday's 1600m feature at Trentham.
"The Taranaki Cup is only over 1800m but it will be a good step up from last Saturday and the race will have a maximum topweight of 59kg.
"He will be conceding weight to the rest of the field but he won't have to carry too much."
After that New Plymouth race Wait A Sec will then contest the Group 1 $400,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes, a weight-for-age race over 2000m at Te Rapa a week later.
There he will come up against the best weight-for-age horses in the country, as well as the new boom 3-year-old Age Of Fire. But he showed he is up to competing under such conditions, at the elite level, with his win in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings in October last year.
"After the Herbie Dyke there is two weeks to the Wairoa Cup and that's still an option if we think he needs another race before the Auckland Cup," Lowry added.
Wait A Sec, who is trained by Lowry in partnership with Grant Cullen, was having his first start for two months when he lined up at Trentham last Saturday and gave weight and a beating to a high class field of metric milers. His connections thought he would be competitive but to win fresh after such a break, carrying topweight of 58kg, was an amazing result. He certainly flew under the radar with the punters, returning a dividend of $16.60 for a win and $4.70 for a place.
The horse was perfectly ridden by Jason Waddell, who settled him three-back on the inside until just before the home turn and then angled him out to get a clear run at the top of the home straight.
Travimyfriend looked the likely winner when he kicked clear early in the home straight but Wait A Sec soon ranged up outside and then Asama Blue joined them in what developed into a three-horse war over the final stages.
Asama Blue, carrying the minimum weight of 53kg, looked to have the momentum to go past the other two. But Wait A Sec stuck his neck out on the line to get a nose decision over that horse, with Travimyfriend only a short head away in third.
Wait A Sec was recording his 12th win from 43 starts and took his stake earnings to more than $371,000. He is owned by his Hawke's Bay owner-breeder Iain Henderson, who races the horse in partnership with his Australian-based son Paul.
Wait A Sec has now won seven of his last nine starts and his great run of form is mainly attributed to the fact that he is now farm trained. He spends the majority of his life on the Dannevirke property of Grant Cullen's partner Nikki Lourie who mixes his work between working around the hills and some dressage.
"It's incredible," Cullen said.
"His form this season has been amazing really and he's just a happy horse. Nikki's done a fantastic job with him."
Strong Hastings team at Trentham
Hastings stables will have one of its strongest representations on a Wellington Cup day at Trentham for many years this Saturday.
The John Bary-trained Miss Wilson will contest the Group 1 $250,000 J & N Berkett Telegraph Sprint (1200m) while her stablemate Swiss Precision will line up in the Group 3 $70,000 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) for 3-year-old fillies. The stable will also have High Spirits in the Group 3 $250,000 Wallaceville Estate Wellington Cup (3200m) and The Bandito and Steppenwolf in a $40,000 Rating 75 race over 1400m.
The partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen will be tackling the Group 1 $200,000 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) with Savvy Dreams and will also have Saint Kitt in the Wellington Cup and Real Beach in the $40,000 Rating 65 race over 1600m.
The country's leading jockey, Samantha Collett, has been booked to ride Savvy Dreams, Miss Wilson and High Spirits while top apprentice Sam Weatherley is aboard Swiss Precision. Tony Allan, who is chasing his 1000th New Zealand win, will team up with Saint Kitt in the Cup.
Several of the Trentham entrants underwent searching gallops at Tuesday's Hastings trackwork session, where Savvy Dreams and Miss Wilson both recorded quick times for their last 600m.
Savvy Dreams had Tavijazz as a workmate in a 1000m gallop close to the inside rail on the course proper and surged clear of that horse over the final stages to record 35.9s for the last 600m while Miss Wilson worked on her own over 1000m and clocked 34.5s for her last 600.
Swiss Precision looked to be travelling slightly better than stablemate Smokin' Oak at the end of their 1000m gallop and clocked 36.1s for the last 600.
Bosson going hungry
Opie Bosson has taken on a weighty summer mission and he's confident of executing it.
The top jockey has a constant battle with the scales, but the lure of winning New Zealand's richest 2-year-old race at Ellerslie on Saturday week will have him leaner than ever.
"We've got five horses qualified for the Karaka Million and Opie has chosen Avantage," Te Akau principal David Ellis said.
"I said to him do you think you can do 54.5kg and he said I'll do it easily."
Last Saturday Bosson was successful aboard the Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained Avantage when the Fastnet Rock filly stretched her unbeaten run to three after previous victories at Riccarton.
"We've also got Hugh Bowman coming over to ride Al Hasa, Michael McNab will ride Sword Of Osman and Cameron Lammas is on Pinot Grey," Ellis said.
"We've still got to finalise a rider for The Real Beel."
Embellish on target
Karaka Million Three-year-old Classic favourite Embellish is thriving and was given a look at the Ellerslie track last Monday in preparation for the $1 million 1600m race there tomorrow week.
"He went and worked on the course proper at Ellerslie and Opie rode him and he was thrilled," Te Akau principal David Ellis said.
Embellish's autumn programme includes the A$1 million Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
"He's a very classy colt and after the Karaka Million he'll race in Melbourne and then we'll take him to Sydney," Ellis said.
Charm Spirit off to a flyer
Windsor Park Stud shuttle stallion Charm Spirit will be represented by his first crop of yearlings at Karaka later this month and confidence levels are high in the stud's camp.
This comes off the back of a strong Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale where the farm sold four Charm Spirit yearlings for an average of A$216,000.
"It's a great start," Windsor Park Stud principal Rodney Schick said.
"To be the second leading first season sire in one of the biggest Australian sales is huge, it's pretty exciting stuff.
"He was an exceptional racehorse and has a beautiful pedigree, so it's nice to see that he is sought after in Australia."
The son of Invincible Spirit was a high-class miler, he won six of his nine starts on the race track, including three Group 1 races, on his way to being rated the second highest 3-year-old turf miler of his year.
Schick believes the Invincible Spirit link is another drawcard for Australian buyers.
"The way Invincible Spirit has had his effect in Australia with I Am Invincible we thought they would be sought after in Australia and it looks like they will be," he said.
Windsor Park will offer 26 yearlings by Charm Spirit at Karaka, with one of the highlights being a white filly out of the Zabeel mare The Opera House.
It will be the third year in a row the stud has offered a white yearling out of the mare. Each has sold well, with a High Chaparral filly selling for $450,000 in 2016 and last year's Shamexpress colt selling for $510,000, but Schick believes the Charm Spirit filly is the pick of the bunch so far.
"She is a really attractive filly, as the other white ones have been," Schick said.
"But she is probably the strongest of them all."