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Powerful McKay contingent for annual assault on northern winter features
14 Jun 2017

eter McKay is once again set to take advantage of the opportunity with a strong team entered for the first weekend raceday of the Ruakaka winter season.

The Matamata trainer has made an annual tradition of heading north in quest of the feature raceday stakes on offer on the sand-based Northland track.  His contingent for Saturday’s Whangarei Racing Club meeting is headed by the classy sprinter-miler Amarula, who will making a fresh start after winning the Listed Livamol Autumn Stakes at Hastings in April.  

Other McKay stable members heading north include De Niro, Lucky’s Revenge, Barcelo and Stokers Rock.

“It’s worth making the trip up there on a Saturday at this time of year,” says McKay. “The stakes are a lot better than midweek and the traffic through Auckland isn’t the nightmare than it normally is during the week.”

Amarula, the winner of seven of his 21 starts,  brings impressive track statistics to Saturday’s open sprint, having scored a hat-trick at Ruakaka in his first preparation during the winter of 2015 and winning again there in the opening start of his campaign last spring. He looked in forward condition for his weekend assignment when hitting out boldly in training this morning.

“We’ll just stick to Ruakaka for now and see where he’s up to in the spring,” said McKay. “I’m not sure how well off he’ll be against the younger horses with Group race form when the Hawke’s Bay races come around, but that’s for later.”

Stokers Rock, the winner of five races in the South Island before being transferred north last summer, is making good progress after recovering from a suspensory ligament issue.

“He’ll run in either the open 1600 or the Rating 85 1400 with a claim,” McKay said. “It’ll depend on how the noms look as to which race he starts in.

“De Niro can start in the 85 1400 and Lucky’s Revenge and Barcelo will be against each other in the Rating 75 1400. I’ll be entering Valante at Ruakaka and Te Awamutu, so where he runs will depend on what each race looks like.

“He’s run two good races over 1600 and it’s 2000 metres at Ruakaka, which could be a good chance to step him up over ground. I’ve also got a 45-rated maiden called As Per that has gone okay in a couple of trials, but whether he makes the trip will depend on how strong the noms are.”