Saturday is shaping up to be a super day of stakes racing for Trelawney Stud graduates.
Dual Group One winner Grunt, who was bred by Trelawney and sold through their 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock draft, will tackle the Gr.3 The TAB Shaftsbury Avenue Handicap (1400m) at Flemington in the lead-up to the inaugural A$5 million All Star Mile (1600m) in a fortnight’s time.
Trainer Mick Price is happy with the son of O’Reilly heading into Saturday’s contest and is hoping he will be able to get some clear running room in the race.
“He’s going really well,” Price said. “Barrier five is a possible traffic gate for him. We are going from 1400m straight into a mile, so I need a good hit-out, hoping they do stretch in that race.
“I’m hoping he doesn’t get cluttered up and it’s a non-event run for him because he’s a big long striding horse who needs a bit of room about him. That’s in the lap of the gods tomorrow.
“I am really happy with the horse, I think his attitude is great. He’s an entire and races in the Yulong colours for the first time.”
Price is looking forward to the All Star Mile and said Grunt should be pried for the lucrative race.
“I think he will be pretty prime when he gets in to the All Star Mile,” he said. “We have had a nice run up with the horse.”
On the domestic front two Trelawney graduates will line up in the feature at Ellerslie, the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m).
Caulfield Cup-winning jockey Pat Cosgrave will make a flying visit to Auckland from Dubai to partner the Chris Waller-trained Nobu who was purchased out of Trelawney Stud’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock draft.
“Chris asked if I would be interested in going down and riding Nobu and I had never been there (New Zealand) before,” Cosgrave said.
“Chris is a world-class trainer, so I have taken the opportunity to go down and see how it goes.
“If Chris is sending it there he must think it has a live chance in the big race.”
Also contesting the three-year-old classic event is the Jamie Richards trained Prise de Fer, also a graduate of the 2017 yearling sale.
Jockey Opie Bosson opted to ride Prise De Fer over stable mate In A Twinkling after galloping the pair earlier in the week.
"I galloped them on Tuesday and it was my choice to go with Prise De Fer," Bosson said.
"It was more of a gut feeling that anything else. I have always really liked him."
Also stepping out at Ellerslie is Stilton who races in the Trelawney colours.
The three-year-old filly is coming off a last-start win at Te Teko in January and will jump from barrier one in the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m).
Stilton will be one of the earlier rides on the card for Cosgrave as he warms up for his feature ride in the Derby.
Rounding off the stakes contenders is Emily Margaret who is looking to strengthen her cause for a start in the Gr.2 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas (1400m)
The 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock graduate will line up in the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui and is rated a chance by co-trainer Kevin Hughes.
“Robbie Hannam will ride her and she’ll settle in front, you can take her out if something has a crack," Hughes said.
“She’s the highest rated horse in the field and she’s best to just let roll and set her own pace and tough it out, especially coming up that bit of a dip at Wingatui.”
Hughes is eyeing a return to Trentham next month with his filly if everything goes to plan on Saturday.
“I’m pleased with her. If she comes through the race well then we will probably go and have a look at the boys in the Wellington Guineas,” he said.
“That’s the plan, to have a good run there at Wingatui, hopefully we can win it, and then go up to Wellington."