Trainer Shaune Ritchie couldn't wait to get his toes in the sand at Waitarere Beach as he went about putting the final touches on his four stable runners set to compete at the Wellington Cup meeting at Trentham.
Ritchie is a firm believer in the benefits that beach work can provide for travelling horses in the days leading up to their assignments, having utilised the opportunities presented at Ruakaka, Woodend Beach in Christchurch and for several years, the pristine setting at Waitarere Beach, south of Foxton.
"All of our horses that are going to Trentham galloped at home on Tuesday morning and headed down to the beach on Wednesday," he said.
"We get a lot of good results when we give them some time in the water a few days before they race.
"They seem to love the change in environment, they relax and for the older horses it helps cool their joints.
"You can see when they have done some work, their veins are standing out which has the blood pumping and the red cells going, which is great for their circulation and the like without putting any strenuous pressure on them."
Ritchie and training partner Colm Murray have two runners entered for the Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) with The Good Fight and Swords Drawn providing them with a strong hand in the race.
Ritchie will also tackle stakes company for the second time with Reliable Man filly Samina Bibi who will step out in the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m).
"I've always thought she was my New Zealand Oaks (Group 1, 2400m) filly and that's why she is running in the Desert Gold as it is an important lead-up race to get to the Oaks."
Ritchie will also line up last-start Tauranga winner Duneagle in a rating 74 1000m contest and is expecting a good performance on the roomy Trentham track.
Ritchie is taking the opportunity to spend some quality time with his family, who are accompanying him to Waitarere Beach.
"We get down there, build a teepee and play a bit of soccer.
"The kids love it as there is a crackerjack fish and chip store down there as well, and they also enjoy going to Wellington Cup day."
- NZ Racing Desk