Bumper Legends Saturday at Te Rapa

Date: 9 Feb 2023

Bumper Legends Saturday at Te Rapa


Michael Guerin - NZ Herald reports:


Another major player has been added to this Saturday's rare battle of three-year-olds against our best weight-for-age gallopers in what is shaping as one of the best thoroughbred meetings of the season.

The Legends Day meeting at Te Rapa already promised the huge bonus of star three-year-old boys Sharp N Smart and Wild Night taking on the established older gallopers in our richest weight-for-age race, the $450,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes.

But in a surprise move, last season's champion juvenile filly Maven Belle will also take on the older sprinters in the BCD Sprint, meaning a clash with fellow Matamata heroines Imperatriz and La Crique.

Add that to Karaka Mile winner Prowess headlining the Ellis Classic as her final trial for the New Zealand Derby on March 4, and the Te Rapa meeting is a stunner.

While three-year-old stars such as Imperatriz have taken on the older mares and beaten them in the NZ Breeders Stakes last season, it is still rare in recent years to see summer three-year-olds aimed at our richest weight-for-age races, and even rarer for them to be favoured to beat the older horses.



But the day before entries close for the Herbie Dyke over 2000m, Sharp N Smart is the TAB's $2.80 favourite ahead of Wild Night at $4.50, with last-start Zabeel Classic winner Defibrillate the $6 third favourite.

Sharp N Smart is using the Herbie Dyke to prepare for the New Zealand Derby back at Te Rapa three weeks later, and Wild Night's trainer Mark Walker says that is his plan, too.

“We think he can get the Derby distance, especially at Te Rapa, so while a definite decision won't be made until after the Herbie Dyke, the Derby is the next aim,” Walker said.



Michael McNab will ride Wild Night in the Herbie Dyke, with his 54kg just outside regular rider Opie Bosson's range, while Walker will add high-class mare Campionessa to the Herbie Dyke as a late entry today.

If Wild Night makes it to the Derby, it shapes as one of the strongest in years because it could have the two Herbie Dyke favourites, Prowess,plus the next level of three-year-olds headed by Waikato Guineas winner Loosespender, runner-up Devildom, Cruz Missile, Desert Lightning and Waitak.

The latter covered plenty of extra ground in the Waikato Guineas last Friday but closed bravely enough in the home straight for his trainers Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott to continue down the Derby path.

“He still ran the last 600m after being wide, so he will head to the Avondale Guineas next, and we are encouraged he will run the Derby distance,” O'Sullivan said of Waitak.

While most of the young guns who are turning up at Te Rapa on Saturday are no surprise, the one three-year-old who is is Maven Belle.

Walker says she will take on the older glamour mares as her next step towards the Group 1 Levin Classic at Trentham next month.



Maven Belle lost some skin off her hind legs when galloped on winning the Almanzor Trophy at Pukekohe

on Karaka Million night but has recovered well and Walker says she needs more racing.

“There aren't a lot of suitable three-year-old races for her and it is only 1400m, so she can have a crack this Saturday and then race on Derby Day to get ready for Trentham.”

With Bosson committed to Imperatriz, Craig Zackey will partner Maven Belle in a race so deep, it will rival the Herbie Dyke for Saturday's star attraction.

One Walker stable rep and Herbie Dyke entry who won't be at Te Rapa is Prise De Fer, who was affected by travel and the hot weather when an expensive failure in the White Robe Lodge at Wingatui on Saturday and will instead by aimed at Otaki's Group1 mile on February 25.

Walker's two big guns from the Karaka Million, winner Tokyo Tycoon and third-placed Trobriand, have come through that race well and are being aimed at Matamata on February 25 as a stepping stone to the Group1 Sistema Diamond on March 11.

Legends Day

What: Waikato's biggest race meeting of the season.

Where: Te Rapa, Hamilton.

When: Saturday.

What: $450,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes, $300,000 BCD Sprint,

$140,000 Ellis Fillies' Classic.


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