New Zealand trainer Stephen Marsh concedes that his season target of 100 winners is probably beyond reach but he’s keen to keep progressing towards that goal with a big team at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Marsh reached 97 wins in the 2018-19 season and was keen to better that mark this term but with 82 wins to his name with less than two months remaining, he doubts whether this is the season he can get to the century mark.
“It’s probably a little out of reach now but we’ve still got not bad numbers ticking over. We had eight at Matamata yesterday and we’ll run 10 on Saturday,” Marsh said.
“We can’t complain about the season we’ve had. We’ve got to 10 stakes wins which we’re rapt with and it’s been great watching horses like Pierina and Atishu fulfil their potential. It was terrific seeing Pierina win the Travis Stakes (Group 2, 2000m) at Te Rapa last month, certainly one of the highlights for us.
“And the really nice thing is we’ve got a good lot of horses to look forward to next season. We’ve got a nice bunch of rising three-year-olds to work with.”
Marsh sits second in the national trainers’ premiership behind runaway leader Jamie Richards and with four wins already this month, he remains one of the form trainers in the country.
He is hopeful of continuing his winning form at Te Rapa with several good prospects, selecting the quartet of Fighting Fire, Lock Up, Chakana and He’s The Man as his strongest chances.
“He’s The Man won really nicely last start. He probably should have won it even easier but he switched off a little when he got to the front,” Marsh said in assessing the Dunstan Feeds 1400.
“He’s always shown us good ability and he’s come up really nicely this preparation. He’s drawn well in barrier two and has Michael McNab on so there’s a lot of positives and we’d like to think he might be winning again.”
Lock Up and Chakana clash in the Fairview Motors Mile and appear leading chances.
“Lock Up went well last start and getting up to the mile really suits him. He’s drawn well in three and he’s a progressive horse,” Marsh said.
“Chakana’s second-up run was great. She’ll be even better with that first run at 1600m and this race looks right up her alley. We go into that race with two good chances.”
Fighting Fire will contest the SVS Starting Gates 1100 as a form runner after winning fresh-up at Ruakaka then finishing second at Hawera last start.
“His last two runs have been really good. He’s drawn well in barrier four and has done well since his trip away last start. He should be competitive in this.”
Marsh’s other runners at Te Rapa are Luca Deli, Spring Success, Appellant, Medalza, Aspiring and Ludus.
“Appellant is improving all the time and her form is better than it reads. She didn’t get a lot of luck last time and with the senior jockey on, we’re expecting a good run. She’s going really well.”
Luca Deli is a two-year-old son of Snitzel and champion mare Lucia Valentina, who Marsh initially trained to Group Three success before she transferred to Kris Lees, winning three Group One races.
“It’s great they’ve given us the chance with him. He’s trialled up okay but it’s clear he’ll be a better three-year-old,” Marsh said.