Three-year-old filly Tokorangi will sport different colours when she steps out in the Group 3 Waikato Stud Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa on Saturday for trainers Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard.
Australian owner Ozzie Kheir has bought into the smart Redwood filly, who came from well back in the Group 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1400m) to finish a luckless fourth, deprived of racing room in the concluding stages.
Jockey Michael McNab will have his second ride on the filly on Saturday and Gerard believes he will have a greater understanding of Tokorangi’s quirks after being a late replacement for rider Cameron Lammas at Hawke’s Bay. “I am really happy with her,” she said.
“Obviously it was Michael’s first time on her last start, and she can be a bit tricky to get around to the start at times. He never really got her warmed up properly. When she came out of the gates, he felt she was a bit awkward. “Michael has been over and has ridden her in trackwork, so he has more of an idea now of what she is like. “She has got a little bit of a cantankerous streak in her but when you know her, she is harmless.”
Although it will be just over a month since her last run, Gerard said that is by design. “She is not a big robust filly. She doesn’t take a lot of work and I’m pretty happy with where she is at,” Gerard said. “Ballymore owned a bit of her and Ozzie Kheir was pretty keen to get in on the action so Mike let a little bit of her go. “She is in different colours this week but she stays here to race at this stage. Down the track if she shows enough ability she needs to be in Australia.”
A $5.50 second favourite for Saturday’s contest, Tokorangi is a $10 prospect for the Group 1 Barneswood Farm 48th New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) next month. “They have to step up on Saturday, that tells us a lot more on what direction to go,” Gerard said. “They have to be pretty competitive to get the ticket down to Christchurch. “I don’t think the mile on her breeding will be any problem whatsoever.”
The Matamata stable have a further six runners on Saturday in Salt Bay, Lily d’Or, Masetto, Dragon Queen, Petrachor and Gus The Maverick but Gerard was left rueing a string of wide barriers. “They haven’t been dealt the best of the draws in the world which makes it very tough,” she said. “Masetto was very good in his first start over a mile. Stepping up to 2100m I think he will be tough but has a lot of weight on his back. He is on a Cups path this year and he needs to get a run under his belt before he goes to the Counties Cup (Group 3, 2100m).”
Meanwhile, three-year-old colt Run For Cover impressed when winning at Matamata on Wednesday over 1400m at his third raceday start. Gerard has a good opinion of the son of Burgundy, but said things hadn’t gone to plan at his first two starts, including finishing last in the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) but he relished a more positive ride yesterday. “We came home scratching our heads after Hawke’s Bay, wondering what was going on and thought about gelding him,” Gerard said.
“I said to Mike he is a really good horse, ‘let’s go to Matamata and see what happens’. “We pushed him forward yesterday and he showed us on the track that he has plenty of ability. Just those first few starts we took a sideways step and did things a little bit wrong but hopefully he is back on track now.”
Despite holding a nomination for the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai 48th New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Gerard said the colt would not be venturing south. “There are some nice three-year-old races up here and we will look at targeting some of those,” Gerard said. “The Wellington Stakes (Group 3, 1600m) or the Trevor Eagle Memorial (Group 3, 1600m) look like options. We will give him a couple of days to come through the run because it was a heavy track yesterday and it was quite tough. “Up over a mile he will love it, he has been crying out for that for a wee bit.”