Several candidates for feature races at Pukekohe this weekend shaped up well in training at Matamata this morning.
Most work took place on the plough, where Counties Cup entry Zambezi Warrior, with raceday rider Danielle Johnson in the saddle, strode over ground and was timed for the last 1200m in 1:22.4, quickening as he went for a final 600m in 36.5.
The Autridge/Richards-trained gelding has come to hand well and looks ready for a bold effort at Pukekohe, where he has won his only two starts to date.
Auckland Breeders’ Stakes runners Cote D’Or and Galaxy Miss also looked the part in their work. Cote D’Or (Coleman), who has been freshened since her Matamata Cup, went solo over 1000m in 1:04.6 and 600m in 36.9. Galaxy Miss (Lammas) was paired with last-start winner Lovers Lane (Dowling) over 1000m in 1:04.2 and 36.8.
Promising juvenile Pinot Grey (Lammas) went with Autumn Wild (S Weatherley) over 800m in 49.8 and 600m in 36.5. Last-start debut winner Pinot Grey runs in the Listed two-year-old race at Pukekohe, while Autumn Wild, the winner of two trials, will start in either that race or in maiden grade at Te Rapa on Sunday.
Counties Bowl candidate Heroic Valour (D Johnson) was paired with New Plymouth Friday entry Aquilo (McNab) in a smart 1000m in 1:03.5 and 35.8. Bluetwentytwo (Abel) and Altius (S McKay) were in dashing form over 1000m in 1:01.8 and 35.6, while Ruby Armani (Bayliss) ran the same distance in 1:04.8 and 37.6.
Irish Moon (Coleman) prepared for the Counties Bowl with 1000m in 1:05.2 and 600m in 37.2. Others to gallop 1000m included Sokitome (S McKay) and Lo Schiaffo (Burdan) in 1:03.9 and 37.8, Master Painton (McNab) and Qian Gua (Lammas) 1:04.6 and 37.2, Palermitano S Weatherley) and an Alamosa gelding (Bayliss) 1:04.3 and 36.6, Scarlet Princess (D Johnson) and Valotia (McNab) 1:05.2 and 37.5, Cape Ceilidh (Bayliss) 1:06.9 and 37.2 and Nuttee (M Brosnan) 1:07.8 and 39.6.
Four Degrees (Cox) wasted no time over 1200m in 1:16.5 and 600m in 37.6, while Pacquiao (Gorham) and All Razzle Dazzle (Masa) covered the same ground in 1:19 and 37.4. Others to work over ground included Aotearower (Wratten) who returned 1:26 and 38.9, Switch Pitcher (P Turner) 1:16.5 and 37.2, and Saffron Lady (Bayliss) 1:18.6 and 36.8.
Za Za Gabor (Bayliss) and an unnamed Jimmy Choux three-year-old (Pavin) left 1000m behind in 1:08.2 and 38.5, Bits And Pieces (Lammas) took 1:09.2 and 38.5, Princess Kereru (Olney) 1:13.7 and 42.8, Secret Leader (Coleman) 1:13.2 and 43.2, and Livin’ On A Prayer (Hillis) 1:15.2 and 41.8.
Over 800m Tavis Star (Lammas) returned 53 and 38.5, and Rock Me (Burdan) 51.8 and 37.2.
Volpe Veloce (Cox) did striding work on the all-weather track, quickening over the last 1000m of the second round in 1:05.9 and 38.8. A decision has yet to be made whether she has a race before her first major summer target, the Sistema Railway.