The decision to bypass Waikouaiti on New Year’s Day with Dee And Gee to concentrate on the Wellington Cup Carnival has improved the prospects for Balcairn trainers John and Karen Parsons. Dee And Gee’s defection from the Dunedin Casino Waikouaiti Cup (1975m) has reduced the field to seven with the Parsons-trained stablemates Camino Rocoso and Shezatoucha strong chances.
Dee And Gee’s trainers, Terrill Charles and Peter Corbett, will trek north to Wellington with a team, headed by their Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) winner, early next week and start Dee And Gee in the Group 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m) on Saturday week as a prelude to her main mission, the Group 3 NZ Campus Of Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (3200m), a week later. “We felt the Waikouaiti track wouldn’t suit her that well, especially with its tight first bend,” Charles said. “She can run in the Trentham Stakes and we’re not worried about her backing up a week later in the Cup. She did it at Riccarton when she ran second in the Metropolitan before winning the New Zealand Cup.”
In her sole start since realising Charles’ dream by winning the New Zealand Cup, Dee And Gee finished last of five runners in a pipe-opener sprint at Ashburton, but was doing her best work late. She then furthered her preparation for Trentham with an exhibition gallop with stablemate Head Office between races at Timaru on Saturday. “She went a good 1600m in the exhibition gallop and she’s fit and ready to go,” Charles said. “Leah (Hemi) rode her in the gallop and she’s riding her at Trentham, too. She won the New Zealand Cup on her and knows her well.”
Providing Dee And Gee acquits herself well at Trentham, she will then head north for a tilt at the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie on March 7, just as she did last season. Dee And Gee was narrowly defeated by Gorbachev in last season’s Wellington Cup and two starts later she finished a creditable fourth to Glory Days in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m). “I had set my sights on winning the New Zealand Cup and now she’s done that I’ve raised the bar and would love to win the Auckland Cup,” Charles said. “Whether she does it or not, I’d love to see her run in it again.”
Two starts after last season’s Auckland Cup Dee And Gee won the Great Autumn Premier (2500m) at Riccarton and third in that event was Shezatoucha, an effort which reflects well on the chances of the Parsons mare in the Waikouaiti Cup. Shezatoucha notched the tenth win of her career in the New Zealand Cup Trial (1800m) at Riccarton in September and in her most recent start, in the Tapanui Cup (2000m) at Gore, she was a close third to Kilowatt. “As long as she doesn’t get too far off the leaders she’ll be a good chance,” Karen Parsons said. “She’s going well and it will be up to Tina (Comignaghi, jockey) to keep her handy enough.”
If all goes to plan, stablemate Camino Rocoso will be setting the pace in the hands of Chris Johnson, who guided the Shocking six-year-old to a decisive win in the Cromwell Cup (2030m) and blamed himself for the poor result in the Tapanui Cup when Camino Rocoso dropped out to last. “Chris admitted it was a poor ride and hopefully he can make up for it this time,” Parsons said. “He needs to let him go to the front and if he sets a merry pace on him I don’t think the mare (Shezatoucha) will get him. “He (Camino Rocoso) will be hard to catch if he’s allowed his own way.”
Camino Rocoso has won three races in eight starts for the Parsons since previously being part of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman’s team at Cambridge.
Meanwhile, stablemate Kiwi Ida is set for another northern raid after her last-start win in the Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni recently. The Awapuni win, Kiwi Ida’s 13th from 40 starts, took her earnings to almost $400,000 and the effort put her in contention for two northern features. She will start in the Group 2 Westbury Classic (1400m) at the Karaka Millions meeting at Ellerslie on January 25 then be at Te Rapa on February 8 for the Group 1 BCD Sprint (1400m).