Clinton Isdale has put plenty of work into improving Tina Again’s barrier manners, and the Te Awamutu trainer is starting to reap the rewards for his efforts.
Tina Again initially proved to be a handful at the barriers and Isdale took her on as a project and has been lucky enough to keep her in his care.
“We are quite lucky,” Isdale said. “She was a barrier rogue before I got her. I saw her get late scratched twice so I rang up Rudy Liefting, who had her before me, and I said to him to send her up to me and I will fix her for him.
“We have been allowed to keep her to train, which has been great, and it has turned out to be amazing. She is pretty good.”
The daughter of El Roca has won two of her three starts and finished runner-up on debut, but she will face her stiffest task this weekend when she comes up against Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Rocket Spade in the Snow Williams Bayleys Country 3YO (1600m) at Tauranga on Saturday.
While taking on a last start Group One winner is daunting, Isdale has every faith in his filly, particularly with a five-kilogram weight disparity between the pair.
“She has got a bit of a weight advantage with Taiki’s (Yanagida) claim. Lynsey (Satherley, jockey) got suspended so Taiki goes on her, which is good as we get a kilo off and he rides just as well.”
Tina Again is in line for a stakes assignment if she performs well on Saturday, but on what side of the Tasman that will be is yet to be decided.
“Saturday will give us a good line as to where we are at with her,” Isdale said.
“We were thinking about taking her over to Australia with those fillies races up in Queensland, but if that were to happen she would have to win on Saturday.
“If she comes out and performs well on Saturday and stays in New Zealand we will likely take her to the Manawatu Breeders (Group 3, 2000m).”
Isdale said there is now a little bit of pressure on to perform after Tina Again’s connections recently turned down some sizeable offers.
“They have knocked back some substantial offers for her, so it has put a bit of pressure on us, but she is on target to run really well on Saturday,” Isdale said.
Isdale will also line-up Shezawinkle in the Craigs Investment Partners Maiden (1400m).
“Shezawinkle will be hard to beat,” he said. “Her last run at Palmerston North the track was a little bit firm.
“A couple of horses in that last race have come out and won, so I would be disappointed if she wasn’t in the first three.”