Raymond Connors is likely to forego the defence of a prestige event title with Wise Men Say in favour of chasing a southern feature.
The Wanganui trainer, who races the top jumper with his father Marc, produced the Yamanin Vital gelding to win last year’s Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) but the Racecourse Hotel & Motel Lodge Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) is this winter’s preferred option.
“I’m pretty keen to go down there,” Connors said. “I’ll see how he is in the next week and as long as he’s sound that looks the way to go.
“Wherever he goes the weight is going to be the worry though.”
Wise Men Say showed he was in great touch for the Riccarton venture when he triumphed in the Grant Plumbing Wellington Steeplechase (5500m) at Trentham on Saturday.
The win came as no surprise as the rising nine-year-old had finished runner-up in the Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase (4800m) at his previous appearance.
“Looking back on that run, I thought this race was his for the taking over a bit further,” Connors said.
Ridden by Isaac Lupton, Wise Men Say kept the leader Venerate within his sights and was left alone on front when the Harvey Wilson-trained hope came to grief about 1000m from home.
Wise Men Say had control from that point and stayed on strongly to score by three lengths from Chocolate Fish, also on a path toward the Grand National, and the defending champion Amanood Lad was eight lengths back in third.
One member of the Connors team who is definitely locked in for Riccarton is She’s Poppy, the current equal $6 second favourite for the Gr.3 Winter Cup (1600m) behind the $4.50 market leader Red Sierra. – NZ Racing Desk.