Group One winning miler The Mitigator will be back in action at Tauranga this weekend where he contests the Group 2 Ultimate Mazda Japan Trophy (1600m) in what will likely be his final run for the season.
The honest five-year-old has been a model of consistency throughout most of the season and trainer Peter McKay said punters should read little into his last start eightth at Otaki in the Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) last month.
"We are pretty happy with him," McKay said. "We gave him a week off after his last run where he was unsuited by the inconsistent ground down there.
"Hopefully all going well this week it will be a track to suit. He has raced well at Tauranga a few times."
McKay has voiced his concerns about the standard of the Otaki track and does not believe it is fit for Group 1 racing.
"One man can't do much about it, so I'd rather just bar the place and not go back."
The Mitigator will carry the new 60kg topweight after initially being carded with 58kg. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has raised all weights by 2kg to assist jockey health in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
"He has carried 60kg but his best winning weight is when he is down a bit. At least everyone else comes up as well."
Rated 103, The Mitigator will not progress to the Group 2 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m) at Ellerslie next month.
"This will have to be his last run this season because he will be handicapped out of it (Easter Handicap).
"He has come up really well this year and all his runs have been good bar a couple on mediocre tracks.
"What we do next year I am not sure. He has proven to me he doesn't really like a rain-affected track."
McKay said maturity had been the recipe for success this term for the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) winner, who failed to meet his reserve as a Ready To Run two-year-old.
"Trevor Luke tried to Ready to Run him. He wanted about $100,000 for him and didn't get that so he said to a mate of his, Tim Davis, to try and get a syndicate together to purchase the horse.
"He sent him to me and we thought a bit of him from the start. He won a trial early on and just took a while to win a race.
"I kept saying this horse is going to be all right, just give him a bit of time. I think he had about nine starts as a three-year-old and it wasn't until he was four that he developed. I said whatever he is doing now he is going to be a better horse next year, and so it has proved."
McKay was philosophical about the spread of the coronavirus and the impact it might have on racing.
"While it is disappointing for the owners not being able to go to the races, at least they are trying to run the race meetings.
"Let's just hope it goes as quick as it came."
- NZ Racing Desk