Ben Foote's upcoming feature race prospects were given significant boosts on Friday at Te Rapa where his lightly tried three-year-old Loosespender and top sprinter Babylon Berlin delivered everything expected of them.
Foote trains and part-owns Loosespender, whose rapid progression continued when he claimed the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at just his third race day appearance.
Stablemate Babylon Berlin will chase a richly deserved victory in Saturday week's Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) and she furthered her preparation with a trial success before the opening event at Te Rapa.
“He's a big strong horse and it's quite obvious we'll have to go to the Avondale Guineas (Group 2, 2100m),” Foote said.
“From there we'll make a decision on a late nomination for the Derby, it's $30,000 so it's not cheap and the next run will tell us what we're going to do.”
2023 Group 2 Waikato Guineas Replay – Loosespender
Loosespender was a debut winner at Hawera on Christmas Eve before he showed his staying promise when fourth in the Listed Gingernuts Salver (2100m).
“He got a bit lost and when he hit the front at Pukekohe he ran around a bit before he kicked back again. He's definitely a decent horse and I was confident today.”
Bred by Awapuni identity Vivienne Kaye, Loosespender was purchased out of Beckam Equine's draft at Karaka for $60,000 by Hong Kong operation Upper Bloodstock and raced by them with the Stride Racing Club Syndicate and Foote.
“Ross Lau and Andy Lau (no relation) drove down from Karaka after the sale to be here and they are all good mates of mine so it was awesome,” Foote said.
Loosespender began well from the outside barrier to take up a handy spot and, after striking the front early in the run home, he held on comfortably to score by 1.5 lengths from Devildom and Savoir Faire with the favourite Waitak making late headway for fourth.
“He's got a bit to learn, but he settled beautifully today. I asked Ben what do you want me to do and he said don't be back and the horse jumped so well and put himself right there,” successful rider Kozzi Asano said.
“I just kept him rolling and he didn't mind the track. The favoured horses came around and tried to get us, but he kicked again and it was so good.”
Meanwhile, Babylon Berlin furthered her quest for a deserved top-flight victory with a front-running trial victory over 1100m.
“She hasn't done a lot since the Telegraph and was a touch fresh and Kozzi said she was enormous,” Foote said.
“He's really looking forward to the BCD and the Upper Bloodstock guys have got Sakura Girl in the fillies' race (Group 2 David & Karyn Ellis Classic, 2000m) and we think she's a big chance of taking that out.”
Babylon Berlin has finished runner-up in the Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) and the Group 1 Railway (1200m) in her last two appearance while Sakura Girl was fifth in the Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at her most recent appearance on New Year's Day.