Jockey replaces Michael Coleman who rode the 3-year-old to impressive last-start win

Mark Du Plessis has been handed a gilt-edged opportunity to bag a group one feature.

He has been locked in as the rider of the talented colt Savile Row in the Levin Classic at Trentham on January 14.

The Karaka-based jockey has been booked as a replacement for Michael Coleman, who rode the 3-year-old to an impressive last-start win against the older horses, but a subsequent suspension ruled him out of the Wellington meeting.

Savile Row's Ellerslie success at the end of last month marked his first appearance since he finished runner-up behind Ugo Foscolo in the group one New Zealand 2000 Guineas in November. That performance earned him a hefty 20 rating points.


"That meant we had to run him in a Rating 85 race at Ellerslie and he was obviously a lot worse off in the weights against proven performers," said Nick Fairweather, racing manager to trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard.

"The distance [1200m] was short of his best so he was very impressive and he has flown through the race."

Safely through his Trentham assignment, Savile Row will be prepared for the New Zealand Derby.

"There are lead-up options and he is nominated for the Herbie Dyke Stakes. He could go that way as opposed to the Avondale Guineas, but we'll see closer to the time," Fairweather said.

Bred and raced by Valachi Downs' Kevin Hickman, Savile Row is a son of Makfi and the imported Daylami mare Fleece, who won up to 2200 metres. "We definitely believe that he's a Derby horse and we'll carry on along that way," Moroney said.

"He could also go to Melbourne or Sydney at some stage, but we'll just take things as they come. He's got a great future."

Versatile galloper Absolut Excelencia is in the right condition to claim his second Reefton Cup today.

The Excellent Art gelding will be lining up for his fourth crack at the Ken & Mary Gray-sponsored event, having won the race in 2015 after a runner-up finish the previous year and he ran fifth 12 months ago.

"He's going as good as he ever has," said Kenny Rae, who trains Absolut Excelencia with his wife Lisa and their daughter Krystal Williams-Tuhoro. "He's come back even better as a 7-year-old."

The weights will also favour Absolut Excelencia, who will drop to 57kg after placing under 60kg in both of his starts this preparation.

Rae also has Indy Evolution, who won on debut at Ashburton, in the Reefton Crane & Construction R65.

He is also hoping for a better run from Cielito Lindo in the Fazey Contracting Maiden, but is never sure what to expect from Kolaman, who steps out in the Kevin Doolan Memorial.