Racing: Southern Icon to handle class rise

By Mike Dillon

Course specialist Southern Icon appeals as a sound prospect for the Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa today.
Course specialist Southern Icon appeals as a sound prospect for the Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa today.

The scene is set for Southern Icon (No 5, R7) to go from his rating as an improving horse to weight-for-age winner in today's $100,000 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa.

That will come as no surprise to trainer Alan Tait.

The Matamata horseman is not an icon trainer, but knows how to get the best out of a decent horse. That's exactly what he has done with Southern Icon.

The astute move was missing the middle of winter, despite Southern Icon being unbeaten in four starts in slow and heavy.

The track today is likely to be close to the middle-of-the-dead range, which should not inconvenience the gelding.

Three-year-old Saracino (No 11) will be competitive with just 51.5kg on his back, but what he lacks compared with Southern Icon and Longchamp (No 6) is tough race fitness.

"Yes, I'm worried about that," says co-trainer Andrew Forsman.

Interesting race.

Cha Siu Bao (No 1, R1) could be the way to start the day. He looked pretty good in a couple of starts as a juvenile and could be in for a good innings. He placed at the recent Te Teko trials, but could have won had he been scrubbed up.

Lord Snow (No 5, R2) is due a win. He fought hard for his second at Avondale and if he gets a decent run from his wide gate at the 1600m - and he should - he can take that trick here. Showyouhow (No 7) and Bella Blue (No 9) are dangers.

Promises (No 5, R3) looks the likely type for this. She produced her best to win last time and with just 54.5kg here she comes in with a weight advantage over the big chances. Biologist (No 1) is a danger.

Bee Tee Junior (No 3, R5) deserved the win last start after a terrific effort at Ellerslie the time before. With the No 1 barrier Lisa Allpress should be able to get the run of the race. That might be the difference. El Disparo (No 4) is an improver and Kingsgrave (No 5) should be in the multiples.

Hillsborough (No 9) in the last is a nice look. Goes well fresh and could be at decent odds here.

Katie Keen (No 3, R4) will come up favourite for the stayers' race, but worth noting is her record on decent tracks is nothing like her wet track form. She might get away with it because on form she deserves attention, but is no certainty.

However the mare's trainer Gary McBeth has been watching the weather forecast and he is praying the weather experts have got their weekend predictions right.

The Taranaki owner-trainer would love to see a few more showers.

"It's a dead (6), but I'd like it a lot better if there was more rain " the forecast is for showers so I hope that's right," he said.

Katie McKeen has made good progress this preparation and she was a winner on her home track at New Plymouth in June and she then headed to Tauranga where she coasted to a 13-length victory in the Kiwifruit Cup.

The daughter of Keeninsky completed her hat-trick with further success at New Plymouth before she was tripped up by track conditions when fifth in the Taumarunui Gold Cup.

"It was too sticky at Rotorua," McBeth said. "She doesn't mind it slushy or sloppy, she's as good as gold when it's like that, but not sticky."

Katie McKeen, who will be ridden by Central Districts hoop Robert Hannam, has taken no harm from the race and the 7-year-old is expected to run well given the right underfoot conditions at Te Rapa. "We've had no problems at all since Rotorua," McBeth said.

"She's a happy horse and there's nothing quirky about her " she's easy to handle." Katie McKeen was bred by McBeth and she is now the last of the breed in his stable.

"I had Sir Gonzalez, who was a half-brother by Fast 'N' Famous and he could gallop on his own, but as soon as he was in company he would spit the dummy so he's gone," he said.

- Additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk

- NZ Herald

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