Matamata trainers Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott will thrust in-form mare Sleeping Beauty into the deep end at Pukekohe on Saturday when she contests the Gr.2 Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1400m).
The Sir Peter Vela-owned mare will take on Group company for the first time in the fillies and mares feature and her trainers believe the weather will dictate her chances.
“If the rain arrives, which is expected, it brings her into a competitive part of the race,” Scott said.
“She’s in really good form and her last two starts have been personal bests for her.
“She would have to be right at the top of her game to be competitive, but if she gets those track conditions to suit, it brings her into the race.”
Scott said he was pleased with the daughter of Rip Van Winkle and was keen to see her add further black-type to her Listed placing.
Sleeping Beauty has won eight of her 17 career starts, predominantly on rain-affected tracks, and will be ridden on Saturday by Sam Spratt from barrier 12.
“She is usually a forward runner, so we expect her to be thereabouts and if the rain does arrive, barrier 12 might not be a bad place to be drawn,” Scott said.
“She has raced on a little longer than we thought, but she has thrived and we thought we would just keep stepping her up.”
O’Sullivan and Scott will be represented by another daughter of Rip Van Winkle in Musical Blues in a Rating 65 Benchmark over 1400m.
An impressive maiden winner over 1200m at Pukekohe last month, Musical Blues holds early nominations for both the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) and Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m).
“She is familiar with the track and showed promise at her first start and is bred to get over further, so the step up in trip will suit,” Scott said.
“It is a fair jump in class as it is quite a handy field but we are hoping that she puts in a performance that tells us we can keep pressing on this preparation and she might be able to get to stakes level and join in with the better fillies over the summer months.”
Meanwhile, stablemate Divine Duke will not run at Pukekohe on Saturday after suffering a minor foot issue.
“He had a sore off-side foot, which ruled him out of the New Zealand Cup and that has now come right,” Scott said.
“But he didn’t work as well as we hoped on Tuesday and subsequently he has a sore near-side foot, but it is nothing major and he will race in a few weeks’ time at Ellerslie.” – NZ Racing Desk