Talented Riccarton sprinter Wekaforce will begin a campaign towards the Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham in January when she steps out at Riccarton on Saturday. The Terri Rae-trained Showcasing five-year-old mare resumes in the Rangiora New World Open Handicap (1200m), her first start since a close second to two-time Telegraph winner Enzo’s Lad in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham in March.
A trial winner at Rangiora in August before a trials second at Rangiora last month, Wekaforce force will join stablemate Windsor, also first-up, in the feature sprint at Riccarton. “They are both coming up nicely. They have both had two trials. Windsor is carrying a fair bit of condition this time in but they are both pretty forward with the trials and both have drawn well,” Rae said.
“Barrier one is a really good draw for Wekaforce because she jumps and runs. She likes to get the wind in her teeth. She’s pretty ready to go. “Windsor is carrying that little bit more weight and he might need more racing before showing up. We’re looking towards the Coupland’s Mile with him, whereas she’ll head towards the Stewards.”
The Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) and the Group 3 Lindauer Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) are both run at Riccarton on November 11 but Rae revealed an even bigger target for Wekaforce. “She’s still relatively young and still lightly tried with 17 starts but she’s really strengthened up this time in and she should be in for a good season,” Rae said.
“We’ve got some pretty big targets for her. After the Stewards we’ll look at the sprint at Wingatui on Boxing Day (the Listed Hazlett Stakes over 1200m) and then get her ready for the Telegraph. “She went a top race in the Lightning at Trentham last season, beaten by a pretty experienced older horse so we were super happy with her that day. She doesn’t need a lot of racing either.”
TAB bookmakers have Wekaforce as a shortening $2.70 favourite for Saturday’s race with Windsor on the seventh line of betting at $13.
Rae has a strong team entered for the Riccarton meeting with impressive last-start maiden winner Stella Creek slated for the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m). “She ran pretty well at Timaru after racing wide two starts back and then she won really nicely at Ashburton the other day,” Rae said.
“We would have liked a better draw (than barrier 10) in a field that strong. But she’s really honest and genuine and she’ll go a good race. She’s still in the 1000 Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) but we’ll just take her one run at a time.”
Rae also has Southern Ocean and Paint Me Red in action at Riccarton, with Ocean Park four-year-old gelding Southern Ocean making his debut after four trials for three wins and a placing. “We had him in the other day but scratched when it came up a wet track. He’s got a big stride and he’ll be suited to the good track,” said Rae, who added that one-win gelding Paint Me Red would be ridden more conservatively this weekend.