Pukekohe trainer Nigel Tiley heads into Ellerslie’s New Year’s Day race meeting with a trio of runners that he believes are all capable of success in their chosen events.
First up will be unbeaten two-year-old filly Play That Song who will tackle the Group 2 Barneswood Farm Eclipse Stakes (1200m) fresh up off a two-month break following her win in the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m) on a Heavy 11 track at Trentham. “We tipped her out for a break after she won at Trentham and she has done well in that time,” Tiley said. “I was going to bring her back for an earlier race but she had a small issue that saw her take a few extra days off so this race became our focus.
“I guess drawing barrier nine out of 10 isn’t ideal when she’s having her first look around Ellerslie but that can’t be helped. “We’ve got James McDonald aboard so it will be up to him to negate the draw but with those class jockeys you know you are going to get every opportunity.”
Currently sitting fourth on the order of entry for the $1 million Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) on January 25, Tiley is keen to gauge where his filly sits against some of the competition she will face that day including race rival and current Karaka Million favourite Not An Option. “It’s a hot field on New Year’s Day so we should get a good line on where we are heading into the Karaka Million,” he said. “Not An Option has been very impressive so far so if we can match it with him then I will be delighted. “There is still some juice in the tank as we head to the Karaka Million but I think she can still be very competitive in this one.”
While Tiley is ruing a wide draw for Play That Song the boot is definitely on the other foot for Group 2 Jamieson Park Auckland Guineas (1600m) contender Riodini who has drawn perfectly in barrier three. The Proisir gelding is unbeaten in four starts with Tiley keen to see him maintain that record as he contemplates a Group 1 target for his next assignment. “I couldn’t be happier with Riodini as he has done everything we have asked of him so far,” he said. “It will be his biggest test on Wednesday but getting that draw is a big assist.
“There looks to be good early speed in the race so hopefully he can get a good sit just in behind them. “I’m a little wary of him having to drag the field up to them near the corner which could leave him a sitting duck for the late closers, but if he can get an economical run then he should be right amongst it. “The race will definitely tell us what we do with him next and if he goes like we expect then a start in the Levin Classic (Group 1, 1600m) at Trentham is likely. “If he goes down there then we might tip him out for a spell as he has come a long way in this campaign.”
Tiley’s third runner is capable miler Demonetization in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m), a race that Tiley believes is within his reach if he can get track conditions to suit. “His form line doesn’t read well but I think he is back to somewhere near his best,” he said. “The key to him is to have some easing in the track as he goes best when he can get his toe in the ground. “I’m not sure we are going to get that as there doesn’t appear to be much rain in the forecast so we will just have to play with the hand we are dealt. “His work has been good and he has drawn well. It is a very even line-up so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go a cheeky race.”