Cambridge trainer Catherine Cameron is looking forward to having her first Group One runner at Hastings on Saturday, but unfortunately she won’t be able to be trackside to experience it.
The Government announced on Wednesday afternoon that parts of the Waikato, including Cambridge, will remain in COVID-19 Alert Level Three for a further five days, meaning Cameron cannot accompany her horses south to Hawke’s Bay this weekend.
Cameron will have two runners compete at Hastings on Saturday, including Cheval Prometteur in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) and Solid Impact in the Hastings – Heart of Hawke’s Bay 1400.
“This will be my first start in a Group One, it is very exciting,” Cameron said.
“It would have been nice to be there, but Sue Thompson has been organised to look after him and the other horse, so he is in good hands.”
It’s been a long road to the Group One feature with the Declaration Of War gelding, who initially came into Cameron’s care after his Hong Kong career was cut short following a knee injury.
He subsequently underwent rehab under the guidance of Cameron and made an immediate impression on the track in New Zealand, winning two and placing in three of his first five starts.
He suffered a stress fracture in a cannon bone when preparing for the Group 3 Jarden Stakes (2000m) last year and underwent another round of rehab prior to his raceday return in June.
“He had four months out and he rehabbed at Margaret Park again, which he did when he got back from Hong Kong,” Cameron said. “He was there for about six weeks on the treadmill, and he has been with us at Cambridge since April.”
The seven-year-old finished fifth in his first-up test over 1200m at Ruakaka in June before finishing runner-up over a mile at Te Rapa, and then winning over the same distance and track in August.
He has had two subsequent placings and Cameron is looking forward to stepping her charge up over a mile for the first time this weekend, where he will wear blinkers.
“He has been racing really consistently,” Cameron said. “It is the first time for us going further than a mile but he did win in England over ground and that is what he has always looked like he has wanted to do.
“Sam (Spratt, jockey) thought he should have gone past the other two (when finishing third last start over a mile at Te Rapa).
“We are putting blinkers on for the race this weekend, she just thought he was watching the others a little bit and ducking and diving. He dived on the line again, which is what you like to see when you are going to go further.”
Cameron has been pleased with the way Cheval Prometteur has been working in the lead-up to the weekend where he will jump from barrier three with jockey Jonathan Riddell aboard.
Riddell will be aiming to secure the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown after winning the first two legs – Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) – aboard the John Bary-trained Callsign Mav.
“He worked nice this morning and we are happy with the draw,” Cameron said.
“Jonathan Riddell is on, so we were pleased to hear Callsign Mav got on a plane to Melbourne last night. Everything is going to plan at this stage.”
Cameron will also line-up promising four-year-old Solid Impact earlier on the card.
The son of Real Impact has made a pleasing start to his career, placing in his first two starts before winning his maiden over 1400m at Te Aroha a fortnight ago.
“He is a really nice horse and hopefully 1400m again isn’t too sharp for him,” Cameron said.
“He has gone really honest races every time. He is a lovely, honest horse. It is a strong field as you would expect for a NZD$50,000 race.
“He deserves his chance to be there.”