Leading apprentice Sam Weatherley leaves NZ after the races at Ruakaka tomorrow to take up an invite to ride in Sydney for champion trainer Chris Waller for the next three months.
Will he be another one of leading NZ apprentices to try, be successful and then establish themselves in the senior ranks in Australia?
Michael Walker, Shane Dye, Jim Cassidy and James McDonald come to mind.
In his first season of riding for the training partnership of Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott, Weatherley won the apprentices' premiership with 67 winners and is on 62 wins for this season, 17 clear of fellow apprentice Jasmine Fawcett.
With a strong book of rides Weatherley could look forward to several winning chances, although the races are very competitive and luck on the day will be a key factor.
Two from the Shaun Ritchie stable, Jon Wick (race 1) and Owen Patrick (race 9), must be counted as high on his list of best chances.
The local stable of Chris Gibbs has had considerable success with Sam Weatherley aboard and in the Marsden Cove Marine Engineering Maiden they combine with Alesund who has drawn well at barrier three.
The three-year-old filly gave the impression that the step up to 1400 metres second up would be ideal after running second at the last Ruakaka meeting.
A win by Ambitious Winner in the $35,000 Reyburn & Bryant Bream Bay Cup over 1600 metres should be another notch in the ever-increasing number of wins this season for the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman stable.
The successful stable has one of their biggest teams with seven runners accepted to race.
The $35,000 Clansman Motel Bream Bay Bowl has attracted the highest rated horse, Hiflyer, trained by Peter Lock.
The 1200m sprint is short of the ideal distance for Hiflyer who has a top-class record at 1400 to 1600 metres but there is no doubt he is the proven class.
Two locals, Spider and Rikki Tikki Tavi, will be looking to see if they are up to his class.
A lot may depend on what the Bill Pomare trained Rich Billie Marsh does in the lead.
Known to sometimes lead by several lengths the mare has only been placed once from six starts at the course, which would surprise some who think the course favours front runners.
A horse that does love the track is Charley Farley who has won all his six races at the course with five of them at the 1400 metres of the Marsden Cove Marina rating 85.
Drawn ideally at barrier four with Shaun McKay riding, the lady owners all enjoy their trip from Auckland to watch their grey and have a day out at Ruakaka.
In its third year the Bream Bay Business race meeting has attracted great support from over twenty local businesses and room will be very tight in the function rooms as they enjoy lunch and a social afternoon of watching the races.
To improve the on-course experience for the patrons, the club with the generous
sponsorship support of Hirepool, has contracted LED Media Solutions to broadcast the races on their big screen for each of the Saturday meetings over winter.
The big screen brings the back straight action right up close and televises Trackside 1 between the local races.
Despite the burgeoning growth of the Logan Racing stable in Singapore, the local custodian Chris Gibbs continues to have a very big team ready to go tomorrow's meeting.
With more than 20 horses nominated, the stable has found a number are unlikely to get runs and this reflects how strong the rating 75 and 65 races are and the Daltons Ltd Maiden had more than 46 horses nominated.
Some horses peak at the same time each year and it was interesting to look back at the same meeting last year and the following horses were winners or placed at the same meeting last year – I See Red, Kyrie Eleison, Toorak Tower, Nailed It, Greencast, Spider and Poker Face.
A rare opportunity is being given to racing fans next Friday when the Chief Executives of the NZ Racing Board and NZ Thoroughbred Racing hold a forum at the Ruakaka racecourse from 1pm.
The NZ Racing Board invites interested people to attend to hear an update about the industry and engage in a conversation of the way forward.
If you are interested in attending, please contact the Whangārei Racing Club for details and to RSVP.