The New Zealand racing industry is chomping at the bit to get to Ellerslie next week for the biggest show in town over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, and Levin trainer Josh Shaw is looking forward to being a part of the action.
The Central Districts horseman will head north for the rich Karaka Millions race meeting with his star mare Faraglioni to tackle the Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m), following her pleasing 1000m trial win at Foxton on Tuesday.
The five-year-old mare has been a revelation for Shaw this season, winning one and placing in four of her five starts, including runner-up results in the Gr.2 Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) and Gr.1 TAB Classic (1600m) in her last two outings.
“I gave her a couple of weeks off after that (TAB Classic),” Shaw said. “She trialled up really well. She wasn’t asked to do a lot until the last 100m and he (Jonathan Riddell, jockey) gave her a little squeeze and she quickened well through the line. It was a very good trial.”
Shaw has been duly rapt with his mare’s progress and is looking forward to being a part of New Zealand Thoroughbred racing’s biggest meeting next week.
“Every time you raise the bar she jumps over the top of it. She is a bit like an Olympic high jumper, you just keep putting it up and hopefully you don’t knock the bar off,” Shaw said.
“She will go to the Westbury Classic on Saturday-week, a set weights and penalties fillies and mares race, so she will drop two-kilos on the weight she carried last month.
“It will be my first runner up there on Karaka Millions night and it is even better taking a live chance up there.”
While there are a number of top-class Australian jockeys coming across the Tasman for the meeting, Shaw has elected to stay loyal to the local pool of riders and has engaged Lisa Allpress to ride his mare in the $500,000 feature.
“Lisa is going to ride her again, she knows the horse and sometimes loyalty doesn’t go awry,” he said.
Shaw currently has his blinkers on, with the Westbury Classic the only race on his mind with Faraglioni, but he said if she continues on her current trajectory, a trip across the Tasman for the Queensland Winter Carnival could be on the cards.
“After that (Westbury Classic) she will likely have a little let-up and we will concentrate on the autumn,” Shaw said.
“We haven’t set anything firmly, we are just targeting the Westbury Classic next week, but if she comes through that race really well our plans will probably change a little bit and we will end up in Brisbane for the winter.” - Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk