Matamata trainer Lance O'Sullivan is relishing having the firepower to play at the top level again.
The Hall of Fame jockey will produce contenders in two feature races
on Saturday with Gr. 1 Windsor Park Plate winner Pure Champion tackling
the Gr. 1 $200,000 Wellington Rydges Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at
Trentham and Whosyourmaster contesting the Gr. 3 $70,000 Lindauer
Concorde Handicap (1200) at Ellerslie.
O'Sullivan, who trains in partnership with Andrew Scott, expects a
bold run from former Hong Kong galloper Pure Champion, who was freshened
after failing in the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings in
October. He trialled at Rotorua last week, going down by a head in a 1230m open heat.
"I'm happy with him," O'Sullivan said. "It's different to last time.
When he got off the plane he was light in condition and we just had to
train him up.
“This time we've had to work him back to fitness. He did well in the
short time he was out in the paddock and he'll probably parade a bit
bigger in condition.
"He was probably working a little bit better going into Hastings, but
that's probably more that he's used to the environment now and has
relaxed a bit more, so we're not worried.
“He would probably have been better suited if it was over 1400
metres, but we've set him for this. It's a Group One race and we're
hoping we've got it right on the day."
While the Captain Cook Stakes has attracted just a field of eight
runners, six are Group One winners and most will progress to the Gr. 1
$200,000 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
"Quite a few of those eight are more than capable of winning," said O'Sullivan, who has retained Craig Grylls to ride. "There's
a chance he'll be in the Zabeel Classic too. He failed running 2000
metres at Hastings, but he charged into the first corner and did a few
things wrong, so we're happy to give him another chance at a mile and a
O'Sullivan was expecting another typically honest run from stable sprint star Whosyourmaster.
Bred and raced by Danny and Judy Moss, who shared in the ownership of
2000 Concorde winner O'Malleys Boy, Whosyourmaster produced one of the
runs of the race in the Listed Counties Bowl last start, dashing home
late for fifth.
"That's just him. He keeps his form pretty consistent. He doesn't
change much day to day, the old boy," O'Sullivan said of the
six-year-old Captain Rio half-brother to Group One winner Keep The
"He's up in the weights and he'll need things to go his way, but he's
capable if all the ducks line up in a row. He'll be better suited to
the set weights and penalties conditions of the Railway Stakes and the
Teenage apprentice Rory Hutchings, who has had four rides on
Whosyourmaster for two wins and two placings, returns to the saddle on
Fascination Street, Fascinate Me, Prize Lad, Sound Proposition,
Prince Bruno, Giardini, and Persuasive round out the runners for the
team this weekend.