Last start Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) winner In A Twinkling will be vying for Group 1 glory at Ellerslie on Boxing Day when he lines-up in the Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m). The Jamie Richards-trained gelding finished runner-up in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) behind Crown Prosecutor last year, and he has subsequently added back-to-back Counties Cup victories to his record, however, a victory at elite level still eludes the five-year-old.
Richards is happy with his charge in the lead-up to Saturday’s feature, where he will jump from barrier two with jockey Opie Bosson aboard. “He is in good shape,” Richards said. “He went to Ellerslie and had a gallop up there and worked really well, for him. “He is on track, but whether he is a weight-for-age horse or not we are not sure yet. “If there is no tempo he will be up on the speed and he can give a bit of a cheek.”
TAB bookmakers have installed In A Twinkling as a +1200 sixth-favourite for Saturday’s race, behind Rock On Wood and Concert Hall, both at +320.
In A Twinkling will likely back-up at the Auckland track a week later in the Group 3 SkyCity City Of Auckland Cup (2400m), where he will be joined by stablemate Savy Yong Blonk.
The daughter of Savabeel finished runner-up in the race last year, and was also runner-up to In A Twinkling in the Counties Cup, before posting the same result behind Ocean Billy in the Group 3 Waikato Cup (2400m) at Te Rapa 10 days ago. “Savy Yong Blonk is in top shape,” Richards said. “It was a top run in the Waikato Cup and she goes into the race in good shape. “In A Twinkling will more than likely back-up in the City Of Auckland Cup, as long as everything is in the right place and he pulls up well.”
Back to Ellerslie on Boxing Day, Richards will also be searching for stakes success with Amarelinha in the Group 2 Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m), and Brando in the Listed Shaw’s Wire Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m).
“Amarelinha is probably still a little bit inexperienced but we went to Ellerslie the other day to give her a look around to give her a bit of practice around there before she went back for this better race,” Richards said. “She will probably go to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic. We think that she is a promising filly.
“Brando will run in the Uncle Remus. He seems to have bounced out of Te Rapa last week in good shape. Up to the 1400m will present no problems for him. It is his lead in to the Levin Classic (Group 1, 1600m).