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Wexford mare seeking stakes highlight at Tauranga

3 minute read

Wexford Stables hope to live up to the name of their Pukekohe victor in Winexpress when they take a strong team to Tauranga on Saturday.

WINEXPRESS winning the ACKNOWLEDGING ATR PARTNERS Picture: Race Images Photo

The Matamata outfit led by Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott commenced the week in decisive fashion at Pukekohe's Wednesday meeting, claiming the Acknowledging ATR Partners 1200 with the son of Shamexpress.

A previous winner of two races in heavy conditions, Winexpress  relished the testing going late in the day under a patient ride by apprentice Ace Lawson-Carroll at the tail of the field. The four-year-old tracked race favourite Hey Hey Baby into the straight and came out on top in a driving finish down the centre of the track.

Scott was pleased to see the gelding back in form after a couple of conditioning runs to build fitness.

"He's a gelding that, being a little bit older, has just taken a few runs to get his fitness up for the testing footing at this time of year," he said.

"We've found that when he gets fit like he is at the present time, he races consistently and honestly.

"It was a pleasing performance from him today, he won with a good bit of authority and certainly by the way he won, it indicates that another win is close.

"He'll go up a grade now to 75, and there's a good few options coming up, so that experience and age in horses is a massive aid."

Talented winter galloper Highlighter  headlines Wexford's contingent when they head across to the Bay of Plenty on Saturday, with the mare contesting the Listed Team Wealleans Tauranga Classic (1400m).

Another progeny of Shamexpress, the mare has been a consistent force for the stable in recent seasons, with a trio of wins and minor placings on the board this term including a third behind the in-form Caitlyns Wish last Saturday.

"We were really pleased with her performance last week, and it certainly warranted going forward into the stakes race this weekend," Scott said.

"She's fit, and with the quick back-up it should aid her getting out over the 1400m. There is a bit of a question mark on whether she can stay the trip, but she's in really good form and is another mare that is seasoned for the testing conditions."

Highlighter will have the services of Warren Kennedy in the feature for fillies and mares, jumping from barrier four.

"She usually finds rhythm, you can't really push or pull and just have to go with her," Scott said.

"She's got a good strong finish, so we're really hopeful she can pick up some valuable black-type on the weekend."

Among the stable's other representatives is I Am Groot in the Gartshore Construction 3YO, a three-year-old by Wrote who has performed well in his first racing preparation.

"He's got good race day fitness behind him, we've freshened him and hopefully the ground holds well for the weekend," Scott said.

"He's a horse that is racing consistently, and he should be right in the finish on the weekend. He looks particularly well in the coat for this time of the year and has held up well in a long preparation."

Consistent maidener Ever Charm has been knocking on the door for his breakthrough success in with four third-placed efforts to date and will aim to collect that elusive win in the TAB Odds Surge Every Race at Tauranga (1600m).

"He's building towards a win and is another with a good load of fitness under his belt. You would think with a bit of good fortune in the run, he should be hard to beat," Scott said.

"He's working well, he's consistent, and has confidence going into Saturday."

The Super Liquor Greerton 1400 will feature Jaffira, a versatile son of Iffraaj who has been within 1 ½ lengths of the winner in his last two efforts in heavy conditions.

"He's won around Tauranga before, he's adept in the soft ground and he's a tough, fit gelding which will be required with the track conditions on the weekend," Scott said.

"He can be a little bit hard to catch, but he's working well and we're confident that he'll run well."

Each of the three runners will be ridden by young apprentice Ngakau Hailey, who picked up his 17th winner for the season at Pukekohe on Wednesday.

"You start to see as we get deeper into the winter that the claims are a massive aid for the horses," Scott said.

"There are some really promising young jockeys out there with the likes of Triston (Moodley) and Ngakau, it's the right time of the year for these kids to step-up."

Scott also made a notable mention of Silver Javelin, another contender in the Rating 65 1400m event with Lawson-Carroll claiming two-kilograms off her carded weight (57kg).

"She definitely won't be out of it either, her last couple of runs have been needed to get fit but she's another on the back-up that can handle the really soft ground," he said.

"We expect her to be a lot more competitive this weekend."

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