Peter McKay's focus will remain in the north after withdrawing
talented three-year-old Barcelo from next week's Gr. 1 Sothys New
Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton.
Instead his trio of Antonio Lombardo, Amarula and Barcelo will tackle northern features in the coming weeks.
Multiple Group One performer Antonio Lombardo will cap his lead-up
for the Gr. 2 Tauranga Stakes on November 12 when he contests Saturday's
Chesters Plumbing and Bathroom Handicap at the same track.
"Hopefully he can win it. He likes Tauranga and it's a bit of a come-down for him, running in a $15,000 race," McKay said.
"I had looked at running him at Te Rapa last Monday, but I had
Amarula in there and I thought it was best to split them. If he goes
well on Saturday, he can go back to Tauranga for that weight-for-age
race in a couple of weeks. He seems pretty bright."
Amarula finished second to Thee Auld Hussie at Te Rapa on Monday,
beaten a length and three-quarters while giving the winner a 4.5kg
advantage. He could still clash with his stablemate in the Tauranga
"The other option I'm toying with is throwing in a nomination for the
weight-for-age race at Ellerslie next Tuesday. I've been wanting to get
him up to 2000 metres, but we'll just see," McKay said.
With both Amarula and Antonio Lombardo sitting in the mid-to-high 90s
with their ratings, weight-for-age racing looks the most suitable
option, as McKay said Antonio Lombardo had struggled to regain winning
form carrying big weights in handicaps.
"He's been racing well but he's in a situation now that he's lugging a
bit of weight and he's only a little horse. He's not just quite there
taking on the best company and having to give the other horses weight,"
Nonetheless, Antonio Lombardo did place in the Gr. 3 Spring Sprint at
Hastings earlier this month under 59.5 kilograms and six previous
visits to Tauranga have yielded two wins and three placings.
McKay said Barcelo would most likely have his next start in the
1400-metre three-year-old race at Tauranga on November 12 ahead of the
Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m) at Ellerslie on November 26.