A sparkling jumpout at New Plymouth yesterday told New Plymouth trainer Allan Sharrock that Kawi was in the right condition to defend his title in the Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings on Saturday.

It was just the performance Sharrock wanted to see from Kawi as he prepares for the weight-for-age first group one of the new season.

"He's just had a 1000m jumpout and he went enormous," Sharrock said yesterday.

"That's his final gallop. He'll do very little now before Saturday. I'm very happy with where he's at."


Sharrock confirmed the three-time group one winner would contest the Makfi Challenge Stakes after a pleasing gallop at Hawera on Saturday in company with another Hastings-bound stablemate, Bishopbriggs.

A knock to his cannon bone ruled Kawi out of the Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa earlier this month but Sharrock said the setback had cost his star galloper nothing but a leadup run in terms of his Makfi Stakes preparation.

"We iced it and did everything right, took all the precautions, and he trotted up nigh on sound," Sharrock said. "He missed one day of work and even then he was hand-walked that day, so he's ready."

TAB bookmakers yesterday had Kawi as a $5.50 second favourite for the Makfi Stakes behind first-up Ruakaka winner Valley Girl at $5.

"We've got to defend our title and I think we can," Sharrock said.

Safely through Saturday's race, Kawi is likely to tackle the Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings on September 17 before Sharrock decides between the Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on October 1 or heading to Australia.

"If he happened to go very well in the first two, I could pop him on a plane to Melbourne. There are some good races for very good money leading up to the Mackinnon Stakes," said Sharrock. "He'll tell us how well he's going and we'll make decisions based on that."

A pleasing jumpout at Moonee Valley last Friday has Matamata trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards happy that talented mare Shillelagh is on track in her quest for Australian black-type this spring.

"We're very pleased. She just had a nice day out and the jumpout would really have brought her on," Richards said.

"Damien Oliver rode her three-wide on speed and Steve was rapt with her run. More importantly, Damien was really happy with her as well. Everything seems to be ticking over nicely with her."

The Savabeel 5-year-old mare has won four of her six starts.

Te Akau Racing has her earmarked for a 1200m Benchmark Rating 84 fillies' and mares' race at Sandown on September 7. "We'll try and recoup some travel costs paid and get her rating up," Richards said.

"Once we're through that, we'll give her a look at some black-type racing, which is the main reason for the trip. But the way she's going, we couldn't be happier with her."

Meanwhile, Cox Plate-nominated stablemate Xtravagant enjoyed a quiet few days after his jumpout at Flemington the previous week.

"He looks great. He'll go to Moonee Valley and have a gallop with one of Lee Freedman's when we're ready before he kicks off in the Chandler McLeod Stakes there on September 3," Richards said.

"Damien will ride him. He'll have a little bit of weight which won't make it an easy race to win but it will give him a good look around the Valley and it will be a good stepping stone to the Sir Rupert Clark Stakes [at Caulfield on October 24]."

- NZ Racing Desk