Ess Vee Are will be looking to kick-off the new year in the best possible style when he heads to Te Rapa on January 1 to target the Stayers Championship Final (2400m).
The four-year-old gelding confirmed his spot in the race with victory in the Stayers Championship Qualifier (2200m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Trainers Darryn and Briar Weatherley were hesitant to start the son of Shocking this weekend due to the Heavy 8 track conditions, however, they were glad they did after his triumph.
Watch Ess Vee Are win at Te Rapa
“He was building towards a win like that. It certainly didn't surprise me,” Darryn Weatherley said.
“I did have a slight concern over the track conditions. We had a team meeting before the race to discuss whether we were going to run.
“I am glad we decided to run. We were there and there was only one way we were going to find out (if he could handle a wet track).
“It was a brave effort.”
It was the second victory in 12 starts for Ess Vee Are and Weatherley believes there is plenty more instore as he grows into his big frame.
“What he is doing now is a bonus,” he said.
“I really do think he will be a better horse next year. He is still a big boy that is growing into himself.
“He is going the right way and I would like to think this time next year he could be competitive in a Waikato Cup (Group 3, 2400m).”
Ess Vee Are holds nominations for a number of feature summer races, but Weatherley said he won't hesitate to send his gelding for a spell if he requires one.
“The horse comes first, so we will take one hurdle at a time. If he happens to go well in the Dunstan then we could look at bigger plans down the track,” he said.
“If he continues running like he did yesterday then we will press on.”
Weatherley was also pleased with the run of stablemate Maria Farina in her 1200m race at Te Rapa despite her sixth-place finish.
“Maria Farina's run was better than it looked. She is a little bit of a trick of a horse and got held up at a pretty ordinary time, which took the zap out of her,” he said.
“She was ready to go bang and had to come across heels and by that time the leaders had got away on her, so it was a far better run than it looked.
“She will back-up on Boxing Day at Pukekohe in a similar sort of race – a 75 1200m.
“Wherever she goes I am confident she will run a nice race for us.”
Meanwhile, the stable's star three-year-old Pier is set to return to their Matamata barn next week in preparation for a potentially lucrative campaign.
The son of Proisir won three of his four starts in spring, including the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Group 2 Hawke's Bay Guineas (1400m), with his only defeat coming at the hands of Dynastic when runner-up in the Listed El Roca – Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m).
“Pier has been spelling at Lyndhurst Farm. He started last week on a water treadmill. He goes on that during the day and he gets a box at night and a paddock during the day,” Weatherley said.
“He will come back into our stable on the 19th of December and his plan at this stage is to go to Karaka Million night for the Almanzor Trophy (Group 3, 1200m).
“He will probably carry a bit of weight as it is set weight and penalties, but it is a nice stepping-stone for him.
“If he comes through that okay, we may look at taking him to Sydney.
“There are a couple of races there – the Hobartville Stakes (Group 2, 1400m) will be the first one and if he comes through that okay we will look at something like the Randwick Guineas (Group 1, 1600m), and then maybe the Rosehill Guineas (Group 1, 2000m).