Seven-year-old gelding Prince Oz has been unbeatable since joining Neil Ridley’s Riccarton Park barn in March and his connections are hoping that form will continue in the Gr.3 Lindauer Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) on his home track on Wednesday.
The son of O’Reilly had only the one win to his name before transferring to Ridley’s care from his part-owner and breeder Raymond Connors and has since won six races on end, including a one and a half-length victory over Prom Queen in the Ashburton Cup (1200m) last month.
“I’m really pleased with the way he is going,” Ridley said. “I’m not too sure what is behind his improved form (since coming south), but I think it has to do with a change in environment.
“It was a pretty good run in his last start at Ashburton against a quality field. He went a bit better than we thought he would.
“He’s pulled up well since, I am pleased with him. He’s been working well, but it will be a big test tomorrow.”
Ridley said he has a long association with the Connors family and a plan was hatched earlier this year to send Prince Oz south.
“I have known Mark and Raymond for a long time. I spoke with them at the yearling sales earlier this year and they said they were keen to send him down to the South Island.”
It will be a day of firsts for Prince of Oz. Not only will he be tested at stakes level for the first time, it will also be his debut start at Riccarton racecourse.
“We had dodged Riccarton all the way through because we wanted to go around the corner (to Ashburton), but at this stage we are at a point where we should have a go.”
Prince of Oz will jump from barrier five under regular rider Terry Moseley in the 13 horse field and Ridley said his only concern heading into the race was his charge’s tendency to be a bit fractious in the gates.
“He is every start, that is a big worry,” he said. “But if he gets a prize I will be very happy.”
Meanwhile, the Riccarton trainer will also line-up He Kin Fly in the Halls Refrigerated Transport Premier (1400m) earlier in the day.
“He’s been battling in his races, so if he battles around again tomorrow and gets a cheque I will be happy.” – NZ Racing Desk