Trainer Nigel Tiley will take a three-pronged attack into Saturday’s Group 1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni and believes the rain the region has received this week will play in their favour.
Tiley’s challenge is headed by last start winners Quicken Away and Lady Maroal, who will be joined by stakes-placed filly Cool Change to give him a strong hand in the event.
With the Awapuni track currently rated a Slow8 and variable weather conditions likely in the twenty-four-hour period leading into raceday, Tiley is relishing the prospect of his team performing on a wet surface.
“All of my runners are autumn-type two-year-olds, so I think they will all handle the cut in the ground,” he said.
“I don’t know what the track will come up as but the reports I had this morning were that it was overcast and freezing cold, so I wouldn’t think there would be too much drying going on.”
When the final field was released Tiley was less than pleased with the barrier draws he received, with all three horses drawing well out from the rail, but he now believes that could play in their favour.
“When I saw the barriers, I was initially pretty unhappy, but once I saw the weather and proposed track conditions, I didn’t think they were too bad,” he said.
“Traditionally they tend to scout a bit wider when the track is wet there so we are going to have that advantage if it does cut up by the time the race is run.
“I couldn’t really tell you which of my horses I favour the most although I have always thought that Quicken Away would be an ideal type for the race.
“In saying that the two fillies are both working really well, so I’m pleased with all three of them.”
While Tiley would be happy to see any of his runners head the field home, he does have a soft spot for Lady Maroal who is raced by co-breeder Ron Saunders under his Maroal Bloodstock banner.
“Ron is 94 but you wouldn’t know it,” Tiley said. “He is great company and just loves his racing. He came out to the track the other day to watch Lady Maroal work and he was telling me he didn’t like the COVID-19 lockdown as it made him feel old.
“He’s driving down to Palmerston North to watch her race on Saturday, so it would be a real thrill if she could go a good race for him.”
While Tiley will be at Awapuni on Saturday he will be keeping a close eye on proceedings at Ellerslie where quality gallopers Demonetization and Le Castille make their return to the racetrack in the open 1200m event.
Tiley has stakes assignments in mind for both runners who are both forward for their resuming runs.
“I don’t think Ellerslie has had the rain that Awapuni has had, but the cut in the track there will be perfect for them both,” he said.
“This is the second prep Le Castille has had for us and we learned plenty about her last time.
“She probably goes best right-handed although she has had a few issues which may have made her left-handed record not look that good.
“The plan for her is to secure a stakes win, so safely through Saturday we will be looking at the options coming up.
“We had thought about going to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Group 1, 1600m) at Te Aroha next week but that will be a red-hot field, so it would have been a very tough ask.
“Demonetization has a decent weight to carry, but his work has been good and I think he can go a cheeky race.
“His main aim is the Easter Handicap (Group 2, 1600m) at the end of the month, so this race fits in nicely as he gets ready for that.”