Group Three performer Irish Girl will be looking to extend her impressive run of form at Tauranga on Saturday when she contests the Mills Reef Winery 1200.
Trainers Ken Rae and Krystal Williams-Tuhoro have been pleased with the way she has returned after her summer spell, but they do hold concerns about her rapid rise through the grades.
The daughter of El Roca won her maiden at Timaru last September before winning her next two starts at Ashburton, and then placed behind Aimee’s Jewel in the Group 3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton in November.
She will have her first tilt at open company on Saturday and her connections are looking forward to seeing how she handles the rise in grade.
“She has come back good as gold, but she has gone through the grades very quickly,” Rae said.
“She trialled up really well and won her heat (last week). She has stepped up to the mark every time we have asked her.
“Her work was a winning gallop yesterday morning and if it was a rating 74 race or down south I would be quite confident.”
Irish Girl has drawn barrier nine and Rae expects her to take a front-running role.
“She will race forward and looks like the leader on paper,” he said. “Pop Star Princess has drawn outside her. But she doesn’t have to be in front. She is very tractable in her work and in her races.”
Rae hasn’t made any concrete plans with the four-year-old, but said a trip across the Tasman could possibly be on the cards.
“I want to go to Queensland with her, but you can only get the horse there. That would be an option if the owners wanted to send her there.”
Earlier on the card, Rae will contest the Matamata Veterinary Services 1200 with Zoltan.
The three-year-old gelding finished 11th in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) last start and Rae believes he will be more suited to Saturday’s sprint distance.
“It’s a big drop back, but he is a work in progress,” Rae said.
“He over-raced the other day. I don’t think he is going to be a stayer at the moment.
“He is a talented horse with a lot of ability, but he is very arrogant.
“He is quick enough to win over 1400m and 1200m. They go a bit faster, so he will settle better.”