Progressive three-year-old Dawn Patrol showed he is ready to return to the racetrack after producing a stylish display over 1000m at the Rotorua trials last Tuesday.
The Dawn Approach gelding missed a start in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie in late January due to the effects of a virus, with trainer Frank Ritchie adopting a cautious approach with his stable star.
“He just wasn’t one hundred percent for Ellerslie, so we backed off him rather than risk completely flattening him,” Ritchie said.
“His blood just wasn’t right and he has had a few little niggles since, so we have just taken him along quietly to this point.
“The trial was really to see where he was at and he certainly impressed plenty of people who were on hand to watch it.”
Allowed to settle back off a hot speed set by Staccato, rider Michael McNab angled to the outside on the home corner where Dawn Patrol hit top gear in a couple of strides before cruising to the line under a strangle-hold to win by a conservative four lengths.
“We know he has a real turn of foot and it was good to see him show that without any pressure being put on him,” Ritchie said.
“I think he has matured during the break and he is very forward to resume.”
Ritchie will throw his charge in the deep end for his raceday return with the Gr.2 Norwood Family Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham this coming weekend his immediate target.
“We think he is far better suited going left-handed so the Wellington Guineas was the obvious target for him,” he said.
“If he performs well there then we will look at where he can go next with Australia a definite option.
“I think he would be suited to a roomy track like Randwick or Eagle Farm but it might be best to look at Melbourne so we can keep him going left-handed.”
Ritchie was also encouraged by the performance of Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Madison County, who charged home to finish an eye-catching fourth behind star colt The Autumn Sun at Randwick on Saturday.
“It was great to see Madison County go so well on the weekend as we finished second to him in the 2000 Guineas, so it provides some sort of measuring stick for our Australian chances,” he said.
“When he beat us in the Guineas, we were still on a steep learning curve so if the improvement Dawn Patrol has shown lately can be translated into performance, then I think he can be competitive in Melbourne.” – NZ Racing Desk