Hot Debutante at Waikato

Date: 16 Dec 2023

Hot Debutante at Waikato

NZ Herald's Michael Guerin reports:

Racing giants Te Akau are set unleash some of their stable stars at Te Rapa tomorrow, but it is a debutante who will have the bookies running scared on the day of the Waikato Cup.

The country’s leading stable has black-type winners such as Campionessa, Prise De Fer, Aromatic, Quintessa and Karaka Million winner Tokyo Tycoon heading to Te Rapa, but it is a juvenile unknown to most punters named Move To Strike (pictured at the yearling sale) who will start as their hottest favourite.

Unbeaten in three trials and having drawn the ace, he opened at $1.70 with the bookies, even though he is taking on race-winning stablemate About Last Night, and even that skinny price didn’t last as he was backed into $1.50 straight away.

“He is a pretty impressive horse, and might be the best of our 2-year-olds at this stage,” confirms senior training partner Mark Walker.

“He has been very good at the trials and looks the part, so he will be hard to beat.”

Move To Strike, which is not eligible for the Karaka Millions, has barrier 1 and champion jockey Opie Bosson aboard, so could be the anchor in many multis and set either the punters or the bookies up for the day.

While Walker is confident with the colt, he isn’t sure what to make of some other key clashes of his super-stable tomorrow, but a horse whose chances require little thought is Campionessa in the $175,00 Cal Isuzu Stakes.

A last-start winner in similar company, she is beautifully suited by the weight-for-age scale and not only won the Rich Hill Mile on this track on New Year’s Day, but pushed Sharp ‘N’ Smart close here in the Herbie Dyke Stakes last February.

“She was really good last start over 1400m and should be even better back up to the mile,” offers Walker.

He was far less definitive regarding the battle between star 3-year-olds Tokyo Tycoon and Quintessa.

“I really can’t choose between them. He is obviously a really good horse, but she is a real winner — she hasn’t been beaten yet. There is nothing between them on their work, and it might come down to who gets the better run.”

While Tokyo Tycoon is the more proven of the pair, if Walker’s assessment is right, the $3.60 price for Quintessa makes great sense compared with the $1.90 opening quote for Tokyo Tycoon in a race that also sees the return of Ethereal Star.

The latter pushed Tokyo Tycoon close in the Karaka Million in January, and while she had no joy during a Melbourne spring campaign, she has the class to be competitive tomorrow.

Walker and training partner Sam Bergerson also have two reps in the $140,000 Waikato Cup, and again the master trainer is not convinced the bookies have nailed the market.

“I think Prise De Fer could be the upset, and the old boy isn’t far off Aromatic,” says Walker.

The bookies don’t see it that way, understandably, with Prise De Fer carrying the 58kg topweight at $12, whereas in the in-form Aromatic is the $3 favourite with 55kg on her back.

This time last year, Aromatic was thought to be better suited to wet tracks but her form since has suggested she is just as potent on dry surfaces. NOTE AROMATIC NOW SCRATCHED.

She will be hard to beat, albeit from the outside gate in a field that has some horses Bosson won’t want to get stuck behind.

The big danger to the pair looks Dionysus, who is at the improving stage and, carrying 53kg, will be hard to hold out for premiership-leading jockey Warren Kennedy.

Michael Guerin wrote his first nationally published racing articles while still in school and started writing about horse racing and the gambling industry for the Herald as a 20-year-old in 1990. He became the Herald’s Racing Editor in 1995 and covers the world’s biggest horse racing carnivals.


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