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Two Illicit near peak for Classic

Two Illicit will contest the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on Saturday. Photo: Trish Dunell
Two Illicit will contest the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on Saturday. Photo: Trish Dunell

Two Illicit will be near her potent best when she races at her pet distance in Saturday's Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings, says co-trainer Robert Wellwood.

Wellwood, who trains in partnership with Roger James at Cambridge, was satisfied with the Jimmy Choux four-year-old's fourth-placing in this month's Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) considering how the race was run.

But there's an expectation that with a more suitably run middle distance contest on Saturday, Two Illicit can prove even more competitive.

"We were happy with the way she ran. The race just didn't pan out to be run the way that suited her," Wellwood said of Two Illicit who races in the silks of Trelawney Stud.

"It was a torridly-fast pace and she's really a 2000m horse so going that fast throughout a mile, she wasn't ever in her comfort zone. It's hard for any horse to sprint fast at the finish off a pace like that.

"She's better suited up over 2000m now and with a more evenly-run race, we expect her to run well and be able to finish off that little bit stronger. 

“But we were happy with her run there last time and it's no shame to be beaten by horses the quality of the three that beat her home either."

While Wellwood agrees with James' assertion that Two Illicit won't be at her prime till at least next autumn, the co-trainers have good reason to expect her to be competitive this weekend.

A winner of five of her nine starts, including wins in the Gr.2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie and the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa, Two Illicit finished her last campaign with a second placing in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie and began her current campaign with a scintillating win in the JRA Trophy (1400m) at Ellerslie last month.

"She's had a fairly quiet time of it since the Windsor Park Plate. A hard mile takes it out of her but Vinnie Colgan galloped her for us on Monday and he was super-pleased with her work. He said she was looking for the 2000m now," Wellwood said.

"She's drawn barrier eight and that suits her. She can sit midfield one out somewhere and be comfortable there. Hopefully she gets the right drag into the race and if that happens we think she can go a really big race."

TAB bookmakers opened Two Illicit as a $5 third favourite for Saturday's weight-for-age feature behind the Windsor Park Plate quinella of Melody Belle at $2.60 and Avantage at $3.60. -NZ Racing Desk