NZ Racing To Begin Training With Alert 3

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Sofia Rosa

New Zealand trainer Stephen Marsh expects to welcome around 50 horses back to his Cambridge stable with the easing of lockdown restrictions.

But he is concerned he may be forced across the Tasman if prize money is not sustainable when racing resumes.

Under COVID-19 Alert level 4, all training and racing in New Zealand ceased last month but horses will be allowed back to work from Tuesday when level 3 is enacted.

NZ authorities plan a condensed program of racing from July but have flagged a reduction in stakes.

“I am probably more looking forward to seeing what the stake money is like to see if it is worth training here,” Marsh said.

“If the stake money drops, you have got to consider Australia, because if we don’t, all of our owners will be and we could lose the lot.

“I know Australia’s (prize money) has dropped a little bit, but we can’t afford to drop.

“I am very interested to see the new stake money and I am very worried about it.”

Cambridge is the country’s largest training centre with Marsh lucky enough to have his own farm where his horses have been kept ticking over.

“We will have 50 come back in tomorrow,” he said.

“A lot of them are going to be babies coming in for their first prep, a few of the winter team, and some we will just bring up slowly.

“There won’t be a lot to race early doors, but just a few yearlings to get them through the system.

“We bought a farm with Go Racing and we have a treadmill there.

“We have had half a dozen within the last 10 days on the treadmill, just to bring them up quietly, the ones we are going to want to race early July.”

Marsh has experienced success in Australia in the past, highlighted by Sofia Rosa’s win in the 2016 Group One Australian Oaks (2400m) and Chocante’s victory in the Group Two Brisbane Cup (2400m).

While Marsh is contemplating an Australian stable, one of his former runners is set to remain across the Tasman for good.

Dual stakes winner and New Zealand Derby placegetter Scorpz suffered a career-ending injury in the Rosehill Guineas.

“Scorpz broke down in the Rosehill Guineas and has been retired. We found him a really nice home over there, he will be looked after for the rest of his days,” Marsh said.

“He did a super job for us and I was rapt to have him.”

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