Te Aroha conditioner Peter Lock will take two runners south for Saturday’s New Plymouth meeting and he believes both horses are winning chances. Six-year-old gelding Viktor Vegas will tackle the feature race of the day, the New Plymouth ITM Interprovincial Challenge (1600m), and he takes some strong form into the race.
The son of Tavistock has had two runs this preparation for a win first-up over 1200m at Awapuni before getting pipped at the line by The Good Fight over 1400m at Te Rapa earlier this month. “We thought it was a very good effort first-up because he is not a 1200 or 1400m horse,” Lock said. “I think he is going to be better once he has this run under his belt and gets up over 2000m. “In his fresh-up run he was under pressure the whole race and it was a very good ride by Jonathan Parkes to get him up to win that race. I thought we had won last time, but we got bobbed on the line. “He’s looking for the mile, so I think this week with the very heavy track (rated Heavy11 on Friday) it’s going to be like 1800m. Hopefully that should play into his hands. “I don’t think it (heavy11) will be a problem for him. It looks like it is going to be a very loose track, so that should suit him right down to the ground.”
Viktor Vegas has a strong record on heavy tracks having won two and finished runner-up twice in his four starts on the surface. However, the Te Aroha galloper ironically doesn’t enjoy the wet conditions back home. “He has done everything right, but is a horse that has been a wee bit difficult to train,” Lock said. “He doesn’t like being in a box, so it has been a bit difficult for him going into this with all the rain we have had, but hopefully he puts his best foot forward.
Rosie Myers will ride Viktor Vegas on Saturday and Lock said while he has drawn barrier two he is not overly concerned heading into the race. “That’s probably not the ideal barrier because he jumps and gets himself back a little bit and then gets into a nice rhythm. “But with a small field I don’t think it’s going to be a major problem if you are handling the ground.”
TAB bookmakers have installed Viktor Vegas as a $3.50 favourite ahead of last start winner Alvins Dream, and Lock shares the bookmakers confidence in his horse. “I am pretty happy with the horse, he has come through that race well and his work has been really good,” he said. “I would be disappointed if he didn’t go a very bold race.” Lock is looking forward to the future with Viktor Vegas and believes he has the potential to be a genuine country cups horse. “Safely through here I am really looking forward to his next run over 2000m because I think he is a horse that has got a good cup race in him, whether it be a Waikato Cup (Group 3, 2400m) or something like that. “He’s going to be a very good country cups horse I think, but we’ll just take it one step at a time.”
Lock is also optimistic about the chances of Southern Princess ahead of her tilt at the ITM Pukepine 1400m. The daughter of Guillotine was well beaten in open grade last start, but Lock said he was pleased with the run given it was her first raceday start in 18 months. “She has had a long layoff with injury. She got a hairline fracture on her cannon bone, so we had to give her some time off. “It has healed up well, she has won a trial (1100m) since then and she came through her race at Te Rapa very well. “It was a last minute thought to go there because the trials had been cancelled, so we decided to run her in the Open 1200m just to give her a good blowout.”
Southern Princess will step back to rating 72 company on Saturday and will be assisted by apprentice jockey Mubs Kareem’s claim, and will only carry 54.5kg. “Her work on Tuesday morning was very good,” Lock said. “It’s a small field and back to her own class with a four kilo claim, she has got to be a chance. “It might be just a fraction too heavy for her, but with no weight on her back and a good stake, you have got to have a go.”