Wexford Stables has been going through a rebuilding phase following the loss of a number of proven performers and the Matamata operation is now looking to the younger members of the line-up to fly the flag.
Trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott have several progressive three-year-olds to step out in the coming weeks led by the last-start Group 3 Bonecrusher Stakes (1400m) winner Dark Destroyer and the gifted filly Karman Line.
“We’ve had a slow start to the season after retiring a lot of good horses like Spring Heat and Rocket Spade went to Hong Kong,” O’Sullivan said.
“We can only have 40 horses here so I said to Andrew we’ll just have to be patient and around Christmas we’ll get going. That’s what is happening and we do have some nice young horses in the team.”
Dark Destroyer will make his next appearance in the Group 2 Skycity Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“He is very genuine and I don’t know what level he will reach, but he is certainly a tough racehorse,” O’Sullivan said.
Dark Destroyer holds Group One nominations for the Wellington Seamarket Levin Classic (1600m) and the Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) with no decision yet on his primary target.
Karman Line was an impressive debut winner at Te Aroha before she powered home after an interrupted run to finish third at Te Rapa. The Myboycharlie filly will step up to black type company in the Group 2 Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
“She’s a really progressive filly and we gave her two trials and she ran fifth and then I think she beat one home, but we always knew the talent was there,” O’Sullivan said.
“We really like her, she lacks experience but doesn’t lack ability. If she runs well, and we think she will, our plan has always been to go to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).”
The stable’s immediate focus is on its home meeting on Thursday with an array of three-year-olds in action and among them is the Derby entry Ozark, who steps up to a mile in the Donaghy’s Maiden (1600m) off the back of a last-start second at Rotorua.
“He looks a horse that will run a trip, he’s been a very slow developing type and had his kinks so his work riders have done a terrific job with him,” O’Sullivan said.
“He has been weak and immature, but he has got stronger both physically and mentally.”
The son of Tarzino will be opposed by stablemates Tuscan Holiday and Dollar Dollar, but O’Sullivan favoured Ozark as his leading chance.
“We have another one in Canny Man, I thought he would have been our best but he has drawn off the track so at this stage there’s a big question mark on him,” O’Sullivan said.
Runner-up at his most recent appearance, Canny Man, who also holds a nomination for the Levin Classic, has drawn barrier 17 to put a start in the Matamata Veterinary Services Maiden (1200m) in doubt.
Meanwhile, Comag Ltd Handicap (1400m) contender Novashow was spelled after finishing fourth in last season’s Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) and disappointed in two runs this term before she broke her maiden at Tauranga.
The daughter of Showcasing, who is out of the stakes winner Bonaichi, is talented but not yet the finished article.
“Her work had been very promising and we put blinkers on her and she’s been doing a bit of jumping with minimal fast work,” O’Sullivan said.
“It’s been more psychological as opposed to physical as to why she hadn’t been performing. Her Mum Bonaichi, who I trained for a period, was a bit of a hard case as well.
“She’s got a bit of Mum in her and she’s certainly got a bit of the ability. It just depends on whether she turns up, if she does then she’s more than capable of performing well.”