Stephen Autridge reckons his team is on track to make owner Kevin Hickman’s New Zealand Cup week a memorable one. Autridge, along with his training partner Kris Shailer, is private trainer for Valachi Downs principal Hickman, the Christchurch businessman whose aim is always to optimise his success over the biggest week of racing in his home city.
Autridge and Shailer will produce three runners on Saturday that look on track to be contenders in separate New Zealand Cup Week features at Riccarton. Group 1 Barneswood Farm 48th New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) hopeful Kelly Renee tackles the Group 3 Waikato Stud Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa, while at Riccarton, Communique contests the Listed Christchurch Casino Spring Classic (2000m) and Karalino runs in the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile Trial (1400m).
“The good ones are going well,” Autridge said. “I’ve just got back to Matamata after three days in Christchurch and Communique and Karalino galloped up really well yesterday (Tuesday). They are both in races they can win. They’ve both got good draws and aren’t too high up in the weights against similar opposition to last time.”
Autridge said Communique’s performance on Saturday would determine her Cup week pathway. “We’ve got her earmarked for the Metropolitan Trophy (2500m, Listed, on November 7) and the New Zealand Cup (3200m, Group 3 on November 14) but we’re mindful she’s only four and we’ll make up our mind after she runs on Saturday,” Autridge said. “We could just pull back with her and go for the Coupland’s Mile (Group 2, 1600m on November 11). Karalino was unlucky last time. She should have run first or second so we know she’s going the right way. With her, we’ll make up our mind after Saturday whether it’s the Coupland’s or the Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders Stakes (Group 3, 1400m) on November 11.”
Further north, Kelly Renee has pleased her trainers as she prepares for the Soliloquy Stakes, her final leadup to the 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 14. “We’re very happy with her. The sting out of the track is going to make me really happy. We’re relying on a really good run because we want to take her to Christchurch,” Autridge said. “She’s a filly that’s very relaxed, very laid back, and she’s improving all the time. She’ll improve again with the race on Saturday because she hasn’t had a run for three weeks. We’d expect her to run well.”
Autridge and Shailer will also line up Rangitata at Te Rapa, expecting an improved run third-up, and Scala Sancta in maiden company at Riccarton. But Autridge is well aware that Cup week is the most important time to shine for his team racing in front of the boss. “Kevin lives there and has a private box at Riccarton. It’s a really great time – Cup week with him there – and I love trying to get the right results for him.”