Fraser Auret is loving his New Zealand West Coast adventure.
The Marton trainer has 16 horses campaigning on the coast circuit, which began with racing at Greymouth on Monday, continued with the Reefton meeting on Wednesday and culminates with Saturday’s Kumara fixture.
But it’s not just a big team of horses Auret is travelling with. He is part of a 16-strong touring party along with his wife and three children, extended family, staff and owners.
“You watch the West Coast races every year and it’s a trip I’ve been keen to do one day to experience it,” Auret said.
“Everyone is absolutely lovely down here and it’s always nice to support racing anywhere in the country at the grassroots level.
“Some of our owners jumped on board and have come down and even my in-laws are down here with us. It’s a wonderful atmosphere.”
Already on the trip, Auret has produced Mochatini for a win at Greymouth and Prince Of Doon, Showbourne, Exquisite Pearl, Tudor Queen and Mayonaka for minor placings.
But he’s aiming to end the trip on a high note at Kumara with Savanah Belle a leading chance in the Vernon & Vazey Truck Parts Kumara Gold Nuggets (1810m).
Raced by the Block Partnership’s John and Mike Gilbert, who raced dual Group One winner Xanadu, Per Incanto six-year-old Savanah Belle has won five of her 19 starts and was running on nicely for fourth in the Miss Scenicland Stakes (1500m) at Greymouth on Monday.
“Her owners’ family are really steeped in the history of the Nuggets so there’s a strong connection to the club and the race. It’s wonderful we could bring her down and support it,” Auret said.
“She’s drawn wide but I’m told Kumara is the biggest of the three tracks. She’s a very honest performer and she’s been consistent throughout her career and on this trip, she hasn’t missed a beat.”
Of his other runners on the day, Auret was again hoping for bold performances from Mochatini in the Go Racing Buying @ Magic Millions This Month (1150m) and Prince Of Doon in the Alex Haywood/Noel Wafer POW Memorial (1810m).
“Mochatini won well on the first day and she’s pulled up terrific and I think she’ll go another really good race,” he said.
“We’ve got nice eachway chances. Prince Of Doon is very well and he ran well for his third on the first day. The horses have all done really well and it’s a wonderful learning curve for them as much as us. It’s a trip away for them and it might be the making of some of these younger horses.”
Auret confirmed his entry of 15 horses, with two double-nominated, was his biggest ever for a meeting.
“It is but everything was put in before Wednesday’s Reefton meeting so some of them won’t be going. We’ll probably end up with eight or nine at this stage.”
Auret trains on the former Marton racecourse and has been surprised to find how much bigger his training track is than the courses he has been racing on over the coast circuit.
“Marton is actually a 1690m track and I had thought it was quite a small track till we came and had a look down here. I’ve been out and walked each track the night before and they have to be seen to be believed. It’s brilliant.”
While away from Marton, Auret will still have a presence in his home club’s flagship race, the Listed Japac Homes Marton Cup (2200m) at Awapuni on Saturday, with Marietta Lane and Uareastar taking their place in the field.
“I’m thrilled with both of them. They are both heading towards the Wellington Cup later in the month. That’s their main target so they might find Saturday’s race a fraction sharp.
“Marietta Lane was unlucky in running fourth at her last start and Uareastar won nicely so they are building into the Wellington Cup nicely.”