New Zealand trainer Raymond Connors is looking forward to heading north to Hamilton next week with a couple of contenders for the Signature Homes Waikato Steeplechase (3900m).
His charge will be led by Mesmerize, who opened his account this year with a gutsy win over the Kevin Myers-trained Zentangle in the Ken Duncan Racing Steeplechase (3800m) on his home track on Thursday.
Connors took plenty of confidence out of the result, with Zentangle having beaten a small but select field in a 3900m steeplechase at Te Rapa last weekend.
“I thought Kevin’s horse would be hard to beat, so it was a good result,” Connors said.
“I was hoping he would go well. We will head to Te Rapa with him now and back him up next week.”
Thursday was the 11-year-old gelding’s third win over fences, with his previous two victories coming in his last two starts over 4150m last year.
While he is proven over that distance, Connors said he is interested to see how he handles the step-up over ground in a couple of premier jumps races later in the season.
“We will go where the races take us,” he said. “We will probably go to Ellerslie, but whether he will handle those really long distances, I don’t know. Around that 4000m mark he seems to go alright, but whether he gets those longer trips will be interesting.”
Stablemate Max will also likely head to the Waikato Steeples, a race he won in 2018, after his fourth-placing in the Fasttrack Insurance Open Hurdle (3000m) on Thursday.
It was his first start in more than 18 months and Connors was pleased with his effort after such a long time away from racing.
“He went well today,” he said. “He hasn’t raced in a long time, so we were pretty pleased. He blew out up the straight, but he will improve a lot.
“We might start Max as well in the Waikato Steeples, we will just see how he comes through the race.”
Connors also experienced a couple of other good results at Wanganui, with Zoey Satin and Our Cuzzie placing in their respective races.
“They were both good runs, so over the winter months hopefully they pick up a race or two,” Connors said.