Palmerston North jockey Robbie Hannam has gone with his head over his heart as he chases group one success in Saturday's Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham.
Hannam has ridden the Lisa Latta-trained Authentic Paddy in 48 of his 60 starts and been aboard for all 10 of his wins. However, he has plumped for the Fraser Auret-trained Aide Memoire ahead of one of his favourite horses.
"It's a tough one because he's been a great horse to me," Hannam said. "It weighed pretty heavily on me, but I spoke to Lisa and she said I had to do what was best for me - after all it is a group one race.
"I've ridden Aide Memoire once for a Listed win in the Rangitikei Cup and she's gone on with it since then. She's probably not the better horse today, but she probably will be next year."
Authentic Paddy has been a consistent performer at group level, winning the Gr.3 Canterbury Gold Cup (2000m) and placing in a Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie.
He also finished second in last year's Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes behind Julinksy Prince. "He's back to a mile this weekend and I can't remember Authentic Paddy winning over a mile since he dead-heated at Hastings with Blizzard a couple of years ago," Hannam said.
"He felt flat a long way out over 2000m at Ellerslie last time [when fourth in the Gr.3 OMF Stakes] and he might just have got a bit dour, whereas Aide Memoire is the new kid on the block and I like her form.
"Aide Memoire is more an up-and-coming horse who could develop into a really top horse. She's better on wet tracks, but as she gets up over ground that could change."
Aide Memoire has won six of her 15 starts with her Rangitikei Cup win and Tauranga Classic second placing her best stakes performances. She won at Trentham resuming last month and finished a close second to group one performer Trojan Warrior at Tauranga last start.
The Captain Cook has attracted a strong field. Volkstok'n'barrell, Abidewithme, Battle Time and defending champion Julinsky Prince are also entered, though Rasa Lila and Hasselhoof have pulled out.
Hannam will chase group two success in Saturday's Wakefield Challenge Stakes aboard the Latta-trained Dreams Of Platinum. He was also looking forward to riding Zedbee in the Chalmers Handicap (3200m).
"He's a plodder, but over two miles, he'll be well suited," Hannam said.
- NZ Racing Desk