Racing: Trainer hopes Zabisco can take step up

By James Graham

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Young Te Rapa trainer David Greene is banking on a fortune-favours-the-brave approach prevailing in the $230,000 Coupland's Bakeries Mile at Riccarton today.

Although Greene's big hope Zabisco makes a quantum leap into group two company, the 30-year-old is confident his three-race winner has the motor to match his illustrious rivals.

Certainly no miler in the north has turned more heads breezing through the grades this season.

After quitting maiden company at Ruakaka in May, Zabisco has recorded two seconds and two further wins from his only four starts in this campaign.

Greene, who is in just his third season as a public trainer, had Riccarton on the radar for the Zabeel 4-year-old as far back as his fresh-up Ruakaka placing behind Society Lady over 1000m in August.

"We thought then if you're sharp enough over 1000m to go that good it was in the back of our mind to put in a nomination [for Riccarton] and to see how we go.

"He hasn't let us down in any of his runs since.

"Obviously, we're jumping up to a whole different class of horse at Riccarton but we've been handicapped accordingly."

Zabisco drops 5.5kg from his last-start win in the judicial room against R80 rivals at Te Rapa over 1600m on October 24.

That factor combined with the horse finally striking a race likely to be run at breakneck pace has Greene convinced that Zabisco is a genuine winning chance with just 52kg.

"We'd love to get a decent draw for a nice soft trip but we'll take our chances from where we are," said Greene.

"The big thing for him is to get into a handicap mile knowing the speed is going to be on. If they go hard in front and he can possie up you always know he's going to finish his race off strong.

"It's going to be tough but when the money's up like that you'd be silly not to have a crack."

Zabisco is just Greene's second runner in a group race.

Largely pre-training with partner Heidi Calderwood before taking the public training punt, Greene also saddled half-sister Thenaia to finish 10th in the 2009 Cambridge Breeders Stakes.

Both horses are out of the family-owned mare Arthena who Zabisco's regular pilot Michael Coleman rode in her last race before injury forced premature retirement.

Greene says Coleman, who partnered Altered Image to an easy Coupland's Bakeries Mile win last year, is adamant Zabisco deserves a shot at group two glory today.

"He's always had a big opinion of the horse; he thinks he's destined to go to the top," said Greene.

"Michael's one of the best in the business so if he thinks he's a chance I'm happy to go with him."

Greene, however, isn't the only trainer happy with the weight scale today.

Hold It Harvey's presence at the top of the handicap with 59kg has also helped proven group-race performer Twilight Savings sneak in with just 53.5kg.

Cambridge trainer Murray Baker is rapt with the 4-year-old's fitness after three impressive warm-ups at the Hastings spring carnival over shorter trips.

Today's test is her first over 1600m since her two Guineas placings at the same carnival last year, but Baker is confident the early race favourite is ready for the step-up.

"Her sire Secret Savings won the Doncaster and they [his progeny] usually get the mile. We're hoping she'll get the mile all right and she's under weight-for-age."

Cambridge rival Roger James says he'll have sidelined rider Opie Bosson to thank if Veronica Franco storms past Twilight Savings to victory today.

"Opie rode her last start and he was the one who gave me confidence to take her down," said James.

"I see her more as a middle-distance horse but I'm happy with her and she's much stronger this year. She'll get back from the draw but the big roomy track will suit her.

"She's had a lovely preparation and I don't think it's a classic field of milers."

James's only hiccup yesterday was finding a suitable replacement rider for James McDonald who was forced to stand down from all engagements today because of a minor groin strain.

- NZ Herald

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