Phillips galloper hoping to continue strong form at Riverton

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trainer has been welcoming the wet weather in Southland this week ahead of his wet track specialist Midnight Runner's return to racing at Riverton on Friday.

The evergreen nine-year-old will head into the Jan Wisely @ First National Real Estate/Sparrow Logging Handicap (1600m) in a state, having placed in his previous two outings this preparation.

“He had a bit of a freshen-up since his last go and he has trained on really well,” Phillips said.

“He is going to get a wet track to suit. It is raining here at the moment (Wednesday) so there will be some tired horses down there on Friday.”

While the track conditions, rated a Heavy 10 on Wednesday morning, will suit the son of , Phillips said he will still have to contend with weight, giving some of his competitors a six-kilogram .

“The weight is going to be a thorn in his side,” Phillips said.

“He has got 60 kilos and some of them are going to claim down to 50kg, which is going to make it , but we have also got a (four-kilogram) claimer on him in Ruvanesh (Muniandy).

“We have taken the hood off him and hopefully he will settle without that on. Sometimes with the hood on he can truck up.”

Midnight Runner has drawn barrier two on Friday and Phillips believes the mile distance may be a bit beyond his gelding in the twilight of his career.

“We will try and settle him just off the speed,” he said.

“1200-1400m is more his go, his stats aren't too impressive over a mile, but I am more than happy with his condition.”

Phillips has eyed a more suitable trip at Wingatui next month for his charge and he said Midnight Runner would then be raced sparingly, with the possibility of retiring the nine-win gelding at the end of this preparation.

“There is a 1400m at Wingatui on June 2, that will be more his go,” Phillips said.

“The mile will find him out, but he has got to have a run somewhere and there is nothing else.

“He will race only sparingly this year because his possible retirement might be due, but we will take him through until August and when the tracks start to firm up, he will go out.

“He has got to an age now where he is just below the top tier. He is competitive and he tries hard, and he is alright down this end of the country.”

While Midnight Runner is nearing the end of his racing career, Phillips is excited about the prospects of a juvenile that has recently joined his barn.

Phillips went to last year where an colt in Archer Park's Book 2 Yearling Sale draft took his fancy, and he went to $8,000 to secure the youngster.

Undertaking his early education with trainer Danny Crozier, the colt, now named Woodlands, has made his way to Winton, and Phillips is hoping he can target some feature southern three-year-old races with him next year.

“He just got his barrier certificate today,” Phillips said.

“He has been up at Danny Crozier's for a bit of education and he is quite a nice type who I bought at the sales. His name is Woodlands, named after my old hometown. It is a family affair with my brothers and their sons involved.

“We will just look at some of those three-year-old races down here around Christmas time. Those Guineas races are now $80,000-$100,000. It is great money and we don't have to travel to get it.”

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