Stablemates Dragon Leap and Spring Heat furthered their preparations for a tilt at the Brisbane Winter Carnival with a day out at Te Rapa on Saturday where they completed an exhibition gallop between races.
Neither of the talented duo were asked for a serious effort but pleased their connections with the manner in which they accomplished their tasks.
For the Hermitage Thoroughbreds-owned Dragon Leap the outing was another step on his path to a raceday return having been off the scene due to some ligament issues since finishing towards the rear of the field in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick last September.
The four-year-old son of Pierro has the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) in June as his major assignment with co-trainer Lance O’Sullivan, who prepares him in partnership with Andrew Scott, impressed by how he has progressed over the past month.
“We are yet to finalise a couple of things with both horses, but Dragon Leap is aiming for the Stradbroke,” O’Sullivan said.
“At this stage there is a race for him three weeks before the Stradbroke (Group 3 BRC Sprint, 1350m) that we will use as the lead up, so he will have a trial a week before that, then the lead up race and then hopefully into the Stradbroke.
“Looking at him yesterday (Saturday) at Te Rapa, there wouldn’t have been a quieter horse on the day.
“He is just wonderful to do anything with and could be a hack to teach kids to ride if he wasn’t a racehorse.
“He has had a decent break since tweaking a ligament and his rehab has gone very well.
“He came back to us from the Hermitage property in grand order and we have been delighted with how he has come along.
“We’ve taken every precaution with him, but we’ve had time on our side as the main aim all along was to go to Brisbane.”
Accompanying Dragon Leap to Queensland is multiple Group One placegetter Spring Heat, who will finish off her racing career in the sunshine state before taking her place in the Hermitage Thoroughbreds broodmare band.
“Spring Heat was going to be retired to the Hermitage farm, so we thought why not take her to Brisbane and try and get some more black type with her,” O’Sullivan said.
“She will contest some of those lesser fillies and mares’ races over there, but we haven’t confirmed a programme for her yet as we are waiting to see what sort of weight she will get.
“There are plenty of options for her, so it will just be a matter of placing her to the best advantage when we know how she will be handicapped.
“She may have to carry a bit of weight, but we will line her up and see how she goes.
“She is pretty much race fit, so her gallop on Saturday topped her off nicely and she will be ready to go when we get her over there.”
Spring Heat has won 6 of her 18 career starts, including the Group 3 King’s Plate (1200m) while she has also been placed on two occasions in the Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham.
Dragon Leap, who finished fourth when favourite in the 2020 Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), has won three of his six starts including the Group 2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) and Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m).