Jason Waddell has quickly worked out what he has to do in a bid to put last-start Group One runner-up Dawn Patrol back on top in the Listed Shaw’s Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie on Wednesday.
The Cambridge jockey has ridden the exciting three-year-old in two trial wins, a debut raceday win at Matamata and his second to Madison County in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.
One concern with Dawn Patrol is his ability right-handed as each of his races and his best trials have been left-handed and trainer Frank Ritchie knows he is more comfortable left-handed.
But Waddell is confident he can help Dawn Patrol overcome any difficulties he may have right-handed.
“He has a tendency to lay in in his races and going right-handed it means he might try and lay out, but from barrier one he should have something on his outside,” Waddell said.
“I’ll be carrying my stick in my left-hand to be prepared.”
Dawn Patrol got on the wrong leg in his first trial on the right-handed Avondale track last February when a close second and, even though he finished third behind Passing Shot and Stratocaster at the Te Aroha trials in October, Ritchie wanted to give him a pre-race look at Ellerslie so took him for a gallop there last Thursday.
Regular trackwork rider Brendon Hutton was aboard in the Ellerslie hit-out and both he and Ritchie were very pleased with the horse’s work.
“He had a nice gallop and had a good trip up there,” Ritchie said.
Waddell was riding at Otaki the day of the Ellerslie gallop and Ritchie soon phoned him with an update on Dawn Patrol’s work and he has also seen video coverage of the work.
“His work was outstanding and Brendon was pleased and I’m happy with that,” Waddell said.
“Brendon rides him in all his work, straps him and will be leading him. He knows him better than anyone and if he’s happy, I’m happy.”
Waddell hasn’t been on Dawn Patrol’s back since that Riccarton assignment and he is confident the son of Dawn Approach can win on Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to riding him again,” Waddell said. “He’s a very exciting horse who has the potential to go right to the top.
“I think he’ll be too good for them. The only concern may be if the rain comes as much as they expect, but even then they’ll be struggling to beat him.”
Dawn Patrol has encountered slow tracks in each of his races.
“I can see him jumping out, getting the trail then kicking away and winning by two lengths,” Waddell said.
Dawn Patrol will be on trial for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 26 and his performance in that $1 million event will determine how much further on a path to the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) he proceeds.
Both Ritchie and Waddell have doubts over his stamina, even though he is from the family of top stayer Limitless.
“I think he’ll be just too brilliant to stay the Derby distance,” Waddell said. “But if he wins the Karaka Million I’ll want to stay on and see how far he gets.”
However, Waddell already has a horse labelled as a realistic contender for the Derby at Ellerslie on March 2. That horse is Vernanme, a rival for Dawn Patrol on Wednesday.
Waddell rode the Stephen Marsh-trained Vernanme for a last-start maiden win over 1600m at Pukekohe on October 26 and rates the son of O’Reilly very highly.
“He’s going to be a very, very good horse,” Waddell said. “He’s the one I want to be on at Derby time.
“I can see him getting back and running on strongly this time. If he’s in the top four I’ll be doing my very best to get back on him.”
Waddell has also ridden Hypnos, another of Dawn Patrol’s opponents on Wednesday.
He rode him in his debut win at Waipukurau and again when second at Tauranga over 1400m before he finished third in the Gr.3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie with Ryan Elliot in the saddle.
“He’s got ability, but has still got a lot to learn,” Waddell said. - NZ Racing Desk