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Waikato RC @ Te Rapa
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Brad Childs has been appointed as the new Course Manager for the Waikato Racing Club (WRC), based at the Te Rapa race course in Hamilton.
Childs is presently the Track Manager at the Awapuni race course in Palmerston North.
Childs takes over from Neil Treweek who is retiring after 23 years at the WRC.
Ken Rutherford, General Manager of the WRC, paid tribute to Treweek and welcomed the appointment of Childs:"Neil has given 23 years of loyal, dedicated service to the WRC. The track has consistently rated highly and Neil's presence at Te Rapa has been integral in maintaining the quality of our racing surface.Brad is a young, up-and-coming race course manager who impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the role.
The WRC is confident the choice of Brad is a good one and we look forward to welcoming Brad and his family to the Waikato".Brad Childs was equally upbeat:"I am really excited at the prospect of joining the WRC team. The Club is forward thinking and it will be good to part of such a progressive club. Neil has left an impressive legacy and I hope to continue his great work".
Childs will begin his new duties at Te Rapa in June.
Owner-trainer John Morell is hoping patience will be rewarded with his unbeaten filly Florence Jean in Saturday's Gr. 2 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders' Stakes.
The Pins filly, named after Morell's late mother, made a big impression when she won by four and a half lengths on debut at Ruakaka on January 6. She was eligible for the Karaka Million, having been bought by Morell for $22,000 at the Festival Sale, but the popular Taupiri farmer decided not to push her into the dash for cash.
"It wouldn't have been right to push her to get there," he said. "We've had some trouble with her shins, and then her win at Ruakaka didn't earn her enough money to make the field and she would have had to race again. There was a race at Tauranga that was an option, but it was only nine days before the race. It was just too close, too much to ask.
"Maybe we'll go back next year with a shot at the million-dollar three-year-old race, provided she runs 1600 metres, but in the meantime the Matamata Breeders' Stakes will do us. That would be a great race to win. We're hoping she gets a good draw, runs out the 1200 metres and does her best."
Florence Jean had a three-week spell following her 1000-metre victory at Ruakaka. Morell is satisfied with how she looks heading into Saturday, but says her trackwork provides no real guide.
"She's a very ordinary worker, so it's hard to get much of a line on her from that," he said. "But I think she's doing alright. She's eating good and looking well. You just don't know how they're going to go in a race like this until it happens, it's all trial and error, but I think she's in good order.
"I've taken her to Cambridge a few times, where she's been a bit naughty around the other horses, but I think it's been a good experience for her."
Florence Jean preceded her Ruakaka debut win with a trial victory at Te Aroha, another right-handed track. Saturday's $100,000 fillies' feature will be her first competitive run in the other direction.
"I think she'll be okay that way around," Morell said. "She hadn't done a lot right-handed before her trial and win and she handled that really well. Most of her work is the left-handed way and she should be used to it.
"As long as she gets a good draw and sees out the 1200 metres we'll be happy. It will be a good field but hopefully she'll be competitive."
The Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders' Stakes is the next target for impressive debut winner Florence Jean.
"I gave her about three weeks off after Ruakaka. The short spell has been good for her, she looks a million dollars," Taupiri owner-trainer John Morell said.
"She didn't miss much work and we swam her a few times. She's quiet at home, but she can be a bit stroppy especially when there are a lot of horses around.
"She likes working at Te Rapa where it's quiet, but she can be a little madam when we go to Cambridge where it's a busy training centre.
"I put the blinkers on at Ruakaka, but not for her work, though it looks like we might have to keep them on for Matamata."
Morell said Florence Jean warranted her place in the Breeders' Stakes, to be run on Saturday week.
"It's a step up, but she deserves a crack at black type. You have to give them a shot.
"The extra distance should not be a problem and she works left-handed at Te Rapa, so Matamata should be okay too. But having said that, I think she prefers the right-handed way of going.
"I'm hoping for a little easing of the track. The Dead4 track at Ruakaka was perfect, plus it was race one, so we had first go there."
Morell was also keen on purchasing Florence Jean's younger brother, offered during the recent Select Yearling Sale.
"I didn't go to the sale, but I did have a friend take a look and we went to $60,000 for him," Morell said.
The Pins colt was knocked down to the O'Sullivan family's Wexford Stables for $100,000.
A potential five-pronged attack on the $1 million Gr. 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby is still on the cards for the powerful Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman stable after yesterday's results at Te Rapa.
The Cambridge stable lined up two of their Derby prospects during the Premier meeting, with the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry-owned Mongolian Legend enhancing his credentials with a gritty victory over 2100 metres in the last race of the day. Stablemate Jon Snow showed he was also still very much in Derby contention when he battled gamely to the line to finish less than four lengths from Volkstok'n'barrell in the Gr. 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes.
Baker was a happy man as he reflected on the performances of his two runners.
"Jon Snow was very brave but probably just needed some rain to show his best," he said. "He sticks really well and didn't give it away in what was a pretty hot field.
"Mongolian Legend is a horse with a lot of potential, so I was pleased to see him get the win which is only going to help him as he makes progress in this campaign.
"He's a colt who can take his mind off the job at times, which you saw yesterday when he did a few things wrong, so hopefully he will learn a little more from the run."
Start Wondering undeniably stamped himself as this seasons Champion Sprinter when he beat a crack field in the Group One $200,000 NRM Sprint (1400m) on Saturday.
The six-year-old returned from Sydney last year after suffering a bleeding attack, to win the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint here at Te Rapa at the beginning of November. He has since gone on to win the Group One Railway, was beaten the smallest of margins in the Group One Telegraph, then added Saturday's Group One feature sprint.
The son of Eighth Wonder was within a nose to win all three premier sprints, a feat that hasn't been achieved, since the great Mr Tiz in 1991.
Regular pilot Johnathan Parkes used the ace draw to settle behind pace-maker Saracino, angled out at the 300m mark, led with 100m and withstood the late charge by veteran Natuzzi (V.Colgan) to win by a neck. Saracino (L.Allpress) was brave in third, another neck back.
"I knew I had to use the draw and keep the pressure on them, so it really couldn't have worked out better. Once he angled into the gap he wasn't going to be beaten," said Parkes.
Start Wonderings winning time was 1:21.22 (last 600m in 33.86) on a Good3 track.
"This just caps off his season. We're very lucky to have such a good horse in the team, he's a real star," said Evan Rayner, who trains the six-year-old with his daughter JJ.
"He'll run in the Haunui Farm Classic and then he'll have a spell. He's been up for a while and there aren't any other races for him anyway," Rayner said.
"I've been training since 1969 and been lucky enough to have some very good horses like Van Winkle and Raywood Lass, who was a Group One winner, but this horse would be steps ahead of them," Rayner added.
Star Wondering has now won ten and placed in four from 18 starts and earned nearly $530,000 in prizemoney for his owners Mrs J M & S B Gudsell.
He was bred by I G Hadfield.