Campionessa Ready for Thorndon

Date: 19 Jan 2024

Campionessa Ready for Thorndon

Love Racing reports:

Trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson believe Campionessa has turned into the perfect package ahead of the Gr.1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday.

Their decision to send her for a spell mid-spring following her subpar performance in the Gr.1 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) has proven to be a masterstroke by the Te Akau training partnership.

She has returned in career-best form, winning all three starts this preparation, including the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m), Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m), and Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2050m).

“She has been in great form,” Walker told TAB NZ. “I think pulling the pin early in the spring when things went wrong was the makings of this whole prep. Her work on Tuesday was really good, so we are happy with her.

“When you look at her now, she is really thick set, she has got a great hind-quarter on her, she is just the complete package now.”

Campionessa is a $3.30 favourite with TAB bookmakers, ahead of Puntura at $5.50 and Habana at $6.50.

The Matamata trainers are also looking forward to lining up last start winner Sense of Timing in the Gr.3 New Zealand Bloodstock Desert Gold Stakes (1600m), who was also sent to the spelling paddock in spring when things weren’t going to plan.

“We always thought a little bit of her but she was a little bit weak and we have just taken our time with her,” Walker said.

“In the spring she had a couple of trials and we said to the owners she wasn’t really thriving, so we put her back out.

“This time around she is stronger and eating better. I don’t think it is the strongest Desert Gold field that we have seen, she is in the mix for sure.”

Te Akau Racing will also have a two-pronged attack in the Gr.3 NZCIS Wellington Cup (3200m) courtesy of Fierce Flight and last year’s winner Leaderboard.

Weight is the biggest concern for Walker with Fierce Flight, while he is hoping for some rainfall in Wellington ahead of the weekend to aid Leaderboard’s chances.

“I wouldn’t have thought he (Fierce Flight) would end up with 58kg in a Wellington Cup, and just whether that weight is too much we are not sure,” he said.

“With Leaderboard last year, it was a brilliant ride of Joe Doyle’s and he got the wet track that he loves.

“They are in the mix, but it is very even Wellington Cup field.”


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