After being nothing short of spectacular in the Group 1 Railway (1200m) at Pukekohe on New Year's Day, emerging sprinter Waitak will hunt a Group One double in Saturday's BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa.
Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott, who train Waitak out of their Matamata base, tested the gelding over various distances as a three-year-old, which included finishing second in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) and fifth in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
The son of Proisir resumed off a decent break with a dazzling performance over 1300m at Te Rapa before a successful last-to-first triumph in the Railway indicated the sprinting distances may be his preferred range.
“He steps out to the 1400m, and he's working into the race really well,” Scott said.
“We took him across to Te Rapa last Wednesday and galloped him between races, Craig, his regular trackwork rider, rode him for us and he was really pleased with him.
“It's another step-up for him, it's going to be a pretty hot field in weight-for-age conditions but he's a big boy and we think he's ready to handle it.”
The four-year-old was guided in the Railway by premiership-leading hoop Warren Kennedy, however, with Kennedy's commitments to unbeaten three-year-old star Crocetti, Opie Bosson will take the ride at Te Rapa.
“Opie's familiar with him, he's ridden him in the past and this horse loves Te Rapa, the big flat track really suits him,” Scott said.
Bosson will have a prized opportunity to win a fourth BCD Group Sprint in five years, having taken out the Waikato feature aboard Te Akau headliners Te Akau Shark (2020), Avantage (2021) and most recently, last year's edition with Imperatriz.
Crocetti currently tops the market with horse racing betting sites at +150, with Waitak a +400 second favourite, while stablemate Dragon Leap sits an ominous +900 chance, fresh-off a tough run in the Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham last month.
Prior to this performance, Dragon Leap had kicked-off the new season with an impressive Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) victory at Te Rapa before finishing second in the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) behind Skew Wiff, and a close-up fourth in the Railway fresh-up, and will be partnered on Saturday by Vinnie Colgan.
“Dragon Leap certainly deserves one of these races, not much went right for him at Wellington with the slow pace in the race and getting caught wide,” Scott said.
“He should quicken well, we think 1400m is probably his peak distance now, and he won on the track earlier in the season there in the Foxbridge, he's another that loves Te Rapa.
“We hope he can bring his best form, because it would certainly be very satisfying and special for the team if he could win a Group One.”