Saturday’s Geelong Pacing Cup winner, Chilli Palmer, is coming to New Zealand to contest the two Group One 4-year-old events at Alexandra Park, and then if he can earn enough dollars, the Harness Jewels Final at Cambridge Raceway on May 31.
Victorian trainer Dean Braun all but confirmed the New Zealand trip after Chilli Palmer’s 3.8 metre victory over the $1.40 Geelong Cup favourite, Smoken Up.
“I’m meeting with the owners on Tuesday night but I can virtually say it’s a done deal. He will contest the Taylor Mile (May 2), the Messenger (May 9), and then hopefully the Jewels Final (May 31),” Braun told Harness Racing New Zealand.
He said Chilli Palmer was likely to contest a race at Alexandra Park on Anzac Day - a week before the $100,000 Group One events.
“We got tripped up last time we were here. You need to have a good look at the track before you line a horse up at Alexandra Park.
“The first bend is vital. I’ll probably fly the horse in the Saturday before Anzac Day or possibly even the Wednesday so we can trial him on the Saturday.
“I don’t want to make the same mistake twice,” he stressed.
He was referring to his 2012 New Zealand Messenger champion, Mustang Mach, who went a shocker a week before in the Taylor Mile.
“He finished last on the first night and then he and Dexter (Dunn) came out and won the Messenger beating good horses like Gold Ace and Terror To Love. He later ran an unlucky fourth in the Jewels Final at Cambridge,” Braun said.
The 37-year-old Lara (near Geelong) horseman said he was delighted with Chilli Palmer’s $30,000 Group Three victory on Saturday, but rated his Group One $125,000 McInerney 4yo Ford Classic victory at Gloucester Park as his best.
“What he did that night was unbelievable. He sat back, launched and killed them. I’ve only ever seen one other horse do that on that track.
“I’m not saying he’s in the same class as ‘Quinny’ (Themightyquinn), but it was a run I’ll never forget. That’s why I think he will go great on the bigger Alexandra Park track. I’ve trained him that way and it doesn’t seem to be a problem,” Braun said.
Like Mustang Mach, Chilli Palmer was bred in New Zealand. Terry and Glenys Chmiel did his early preparation with him. They won two trials at Rangiora and a workout at Motukarara before he was exported to Australia on February 11 last year.
Chilli Palmer has now won 10 of his 14 starts and $175,594. He recorded his quickest mile rate of 1:51.5 when winning the Group Three $30,000 Garrards 4yo Bonanza at Tabcorp Park on February 8.
He is likely to stay at Tony Herlihy’s stable at Ardmore with Herlihy’s former employee Amanda Grieve. She has been employed by Braun for the last seven weeks and will travel with the 4-year-old Elsu gelding.
Chilli Palmer is owned by Braun, Mara Scarpino, K. Farah, A Kheir, J. R. Pezzimenti, S. Parkinson, A Mathews, C Badcock, and A. Badcock.
He was bred by Graeme Henley and S. R. Henley.
Braun regarded his 2012 NZ Messenger win with Mustang Mach as his career highlight.
“It’s hard enough beating the Kiwis on any track but to do it in their own backyard was special. I want to repeat the dose. In fact we are coming to win all three of your Group one races.
“I wouldn’t be sending him there if I didn’t think we could achieve that,” Braun said.
By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)