Day At The Track

Wairio Preview

09:00 AM 17 Dec 2016 NZDT
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Nigel McGrath
Nigel McGrath has runners engaged at Wairio
File Photo

The start of the Southern Country Cup series and appearance of 16 Canterbury-trained runners spread over 10 of the 11 races will be among the highlights at Winton on Saturday when the Wairio Club stages the first of its two meetings of the season. 

In previous years, the club would already have held its popular mile day but that has been scheduled this term for 25 March.

West Melton trainer Steven McRae will have four at Saturday's fixture and expects his best chance to be in the first, the WINTON NIGHT 'N DAY FOODSTORE TROT. Kash Valley started off the unruly at Oamaru, was slowly but safely away, improved across the top, was wide turning in and ran home for fourth. She is off the unruly again at Winton but has only six opponents.

“I”m pretty happy with her, she's trotting well at home, its a big track and small field and she is ready to win,” McRae said.

Thisismylastflight contests the fifth, the RYAL BUSH TRANSPORT LTD MOBILE PACE and has drawn the ace. Winner of three of his past five, two of them at Addington, the four year old is part owned in the south and will have a break here after the race.

“He's been up for a while and it would be nice to go out on a high note,” McRae said, “he's still a big kid but has got a good motor. He hasn't beaten a lot yet so in that field we'll get a line on him.”

The HIGHWAY SERVICES INVERCARGILL FILLIES & MARES MOBILE PACE is the sixth on the card and McRae has Tara Tutaia starting from four in the one mile contest. The three year old filly is the fifth foal of Tara Gold and the first four have all been winners including New Zealand Cup runner-up Tiger Tara. 

“I used to played cricket with Tim Grant, (one of her breeders and owners), I broke her in and have kept her,” said McRae.

This will be Tara Tutaia's second start and second trip to Winton, the first in March as a two year old when she finished last. She trialled at Ashburton on Tuesday last week, started from the outside of the seven-horse field and settled last. Still back on the turn, Tara Tutaia unleashed powerfully in the closing stages for a spectacular win.

“She is on the way up and if she gets covered up, she's got enough speed,” said McRae.

Race nine is the OTAUTAU FOUR SQUARE SUPERMARKET WAIRIO CUP (HANDICAP PACE), first of the Southern Country Cup Series. The Gore, Roxburgh, Cromwell, and Northern Southland Summer Cups follow in the next 30 days. The Cup has drawn an exciting mixture of some of the south's genuine up and comers and some its established stars. Joining them is McRae's rep Franco Tristan, the sole visitor from Canterbury.

“He's out of his class but he's good from a stand and its a good stake.”

In Franco Tristan's most recent start, he wasn't well served by the six minute delay at the start at Methven - caused by a number of erratic starters - and got back. Starting the final lap the McArdle four year old, looped the field, sat parked from the 800 and beat all but Vincent.

“Methven has been his best run, he's got good manners, if he goes out well and gets a good sit, he won't be out of it.” 

Nigel McGrath has two runners in three races and hopes they both get a run over a mile. Three year old filly Pick My Pocket will be on debut and has a start in the MCNEILL'S POULTRY FARM (2006) LTD MOBILE PACE, race three. She has been balloted one out in the sixth, the HIGHWAY SERVICES INVERCARGILL FILLIES & MARES MOBILE MILE but that race would be McGrath's preference.

“It's hard to find miles for maidens,” he said.

According to McGrath, Pick My Pocket is still learning and would benefit from the trip away. A fortnight ago, she won a workout round the outside of the grass at Motukarara and “she went really well”, he said. 

McGrath has C1 filly Fire One contesting race 10, the MACCA LODGE FILLIES & MARES MOBILE MILE. A last start winner over 1950 metres at Addington, the daughter of Mach Three had previously won over a mile at Ashburton in 1:54.7.

“She's got great gate speed and loves short distances,” he said.

Other Canterbury trainers represented on Saturday are Ray Jenkins (three), Tim Butt (two), Craig and Josh Kennett, Nick Le Lievre, David Mitchell and Jesse Wederell.

Mac Henry

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