Punters are looking to Hastings in anticipation on Saturday where star mares La Crique and Imperatriz will meet for the first time in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m).
Dual Group One winner Imperatriz has had two lead-in runs for trainer Mark Walker, winning both of her outings, including a dominant 5-3/4 length victory in the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m), while La Crique heads into Saturday first-up, having finished runner-up in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in her last start in March.
“The pair didn’t meet in their three-year-old season. It is the first time we have come up against her,” said Katrina Alexander, who trains in partnership with her husband Simon.
“We met most of the Te Akau fillies in their three-year-old year except for her.
“It has been billed as a bit of a match race to see how they stack up against each other.”
The Matamata conditioners have been happy with La Crique’s two trial wins leading into Saturday and are happy with their mare ahead of her first-up run.
“I have been happy with her trials. She has progressed through each one nicely,” Alexander said.
“She has galloped really lovely going into Hastings. We have done all our work now and she will do her last bit of fast work tomorrow (Thursday).
“She is looking quite forward despite not having had a race under her belt. I am quite comfortable with where she is without having a lead-up race.
“That is how we planned to kick her off and I am happy with where we are.”
The Hastings track was rated a Heavy10 on Wednesday morning and that is the biggest concern for Alexander this weekend.
“That (heavy track) is a concern and what we were hoping to avoid,” she said.
“It is certainly not ideal but I don’t believe she will be useless on a wet track, it’s just we were hoping not to have a really tough, hard-slog run on a heavy track (first-up).
“We have committed to going now. There is no point jumping on a plane because the tracks are just as wet in Melbourne and Sydney.
“We will commit to having this run under her belt and see how she comes through it and go from there.
“Her work has been good on rain-affected ground, so we have just got our fingers crossed that we have her forward enough that it is not too hard on her.”
The daughter of Vadamos is nominated for all three legs of the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival and Alexander is leaning toward contesting the first two before giving consideration to targets across the Tasman.
“Depending on how she does go on Saturday, we have in the back of our mind that she can contest the second leg (Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate, 1600m) as well.
“The tracks would have to improve significantly in Australia to perhaps change our plans.
“At this stage, we have decided that we will stay for the first two legs and look over to Australia after that.”
While both Melbourne and Sydney targets have been bandied around, at this stage Alexander is looking toward the A$10 million Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on October 29 with her mare.
“All along our plan for her in the spring was to do a short tour in Australia, target a race and come back,” Alexander said.
“That leaves the Golden Eagle as the feasible option. The distance would suit and the spacing from Hastings to that race is the best for her. You don’t get that (A$10 million) on offer terribly often either.
“I really don’t want to overtax her in the spring now. Just have a hit-and-run and come home and look at autumn with her.
“The Cox Plate (Gr.1, 2040m) has been thrown around, but whether that is this prep or as a five-year-old instead and kicking off her spring over there from the get-go.
“There is a lot up in the air and there are a lot of options available. We don’t want to make any decisions until she has had this run under her belt, and things will become a lot clearer after that.”
La Crique will likely be joined on the float trip south to Hastings by stablemate Iroquois Falls who is set to contest the Listed El Roca – Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m).
The daughter of Impending finished sixth on debut over 1050m at Matamata last month, but Alexander said she can be forgiven for that run.
“She didn’t really disappoint me in her first run, she did a bit much early,” she said.
“This is her time of year. She seems to cope with these kind of tracks.
“We may have thrown her in the deep end, but she has drawn quite favourably (4) and that was going to be the decider. We will hope to ride her a bit differently.
“I do believe that she is very fit and very forward. She galloped well on Tuesday and the track conditions should suit her.
“At this stage, we are looking at taking her as well. I think she will be a top four or five chance in that race.” – NZ Racing Desk
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