Promising filly Force Of Will’s path to the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand Oaks (2400m) has hit a snag just a month out from the Trentham Classic.
The three-year-old daughter of Power was set to line-up in the Group 2 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on Saturday, however, trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott have taken a cautious approach and scratched her from the race after findings from her bloodwork on Thursday morning.
“We took a routine blood off her this (Thursday) morning and she just wasn’t 100 percent in the blood. They need to be 100 percent to be competitive,” Scott said.
“We will just give her a quiet weekend and take another blood on Monday. She hasn’t got a temperature or anything, her blood picture just isn’t 100 percent.”
Force Of Will wasn’t nominated for the New Zealand Oaks but a late entry was likely if she performed up to expectations on Saturday, but Scott said they will now just take a race-by-race approach with the Sir Owen Glen bred and owned filly.
“We are only taking it one race at a time. We will just see how quickly she recovers from this minor setback,” Scott said.
“If she recovers quickly, we can make some plans. But we will just take it one step at a time, the horse’s general health has got to come first.”
Australian targets still remain in the offing, with Force Of Will nominated for both the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 10 and the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick a week earlier.
“The way she’s racing and the way she’s continued to step up has brought those races into contention,” Scott said.
“She’s a filly we took quietly as a two-year-old she’s become a real summer bloomer.”
Meanwhile, stablemate Charles Road is a +3300 outsider in the day’s feature, the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) but O’Sullivan and Scott believe he deserves his place in the race.
“He’s part of a very strong field and it won’t be easy for us but he’s got the ability to be competitive,” Scott said.
“His first run back (for second in the Group 3 Jarden Stakes over 2000m at Ellerslie in November) was superb and he ran well in the Zabeel Classic (2000m, Group One at Ellerslie on Boxing Day) but the quick backup into the City Of Auckland Cup (2400m, Group Three at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day) didn’t suit him.
“We’re hoping he can put in another good performance. His work has been encouraging. He’s just got to bring it to the table on raceday.”
The stable’s other runner on the day is Amano in the Allied Security 2100, Scott confident of a bold run from the Reliable Man gelding.
“He’s probably the best winning chance of the two. He’s going really well. He’s stepping back from the Karaka Stayers Cup and he’s done really well since that race.”