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A strong start to the season sees Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott sitting fourth on the New Zealand trainers’ premiership with 19 wins, and the Matamata pair can continue their form with another big and talented team of weekend runners.
O'Sullivan and Scott are already more than halfway towards their 2022-23 total of 32 wins, with a hugely productive spring headlined by black-type successes from Molly Bloom in the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and Dragon Leap in the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m).
Wexford Stables will be represented by 19 runners across the meetings at Pukekohe on Saturday and Rotorua on Sunday, including a number of well-credentialled chances.
Promising five-year-old Uderzo kicks off the weekend in the first race on the Pukekohe card, the $65,000 Happy Milestone Birthday David Ellis (1200m).
The Vadamos gelding has been a four-time winner from 11 starts to date. He made good progress through the grades with two wins and three placings from eight starts last season, and he kicked off his 2023-24 campaign with a dominant victory in a Rating 75 sprint at Tauranga on November 18.
"He surprised us a wee bit with that very easy win on heavy ground," Scott said. "We've kept him to 1200m again for his second-up run on Saturday, just to try to continue to teach him a little bit. When he got up over further in his last preparation, he just tended to get a bit eager and wanted to get along. He relaxed nicely over the six furlongs first-up, so we'll give him another run at that trip here.
"This is going to be quite a step up. Bonny Lass looks like she'll be very hard to beat. But we're pleased with the horse, he's won at Pukekohe before and we think he has another good sprint performance in him.
"How he handles this grade on Saturday will guide us in terms of what we do through the rest of his campaign."
Another son of Vadamos, Mosinvader, is expected to relish the step up in distance for Saturday's Barfoot & Thompson (1600m). The three-year-old colt made his debut over 1400m at Taupo on November 9, and he made up good ground late in the race to finish seventh.
"He found the line pretty strongly on debut and is a real improver," Scott said. "We think the step up to the mile will suit him. He's got a good gate (three) and a good rider (Craig Grylls).
"He's a colt that we think will continue to improve over the summer months and he should appreciate longer distances. He's quite a promising staying three-year-old in the making."
Magawa lines up in the Stella Artois 1500 Championship Qualifier (1200m), having flashed home for second at Tauranga on November 18.
"He got home very nicely last time behind a horse carrying a lot less weight than him, and he goes well right-handed," Scott said. "He just lacked a bit of concentration during that last-start run, so the blinkers will go on for the first time this weekend.
"We've mixed his work up a bit with some jumping, and we think he's going into this race in good shape."
Jaffira is on the ballot for the Ellerslie Events (1500m), but could be one of the stable's best chances of the weekend if he makes the field. The son of Iffraaj won twice as a three-year-old last season and contested the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
He caught the eye with a strong finish for third when he resumed over 1400m at Te Rapa on November 11.
"His sectionals were very good that day," Scott said. "He's looking great and will appreciate the extra distance second-up. Now that he's been gelded, we think he's a lot more focused and consistent.
"It's a hot little field on Saturday, but if he gets a run, he can definitely be thereabouts at the finish."
Scott is also upbeat about the prospects of the stable's 12-strong team at Rotorua on Sunday, which includes three-year-olds I Am Groot, Ever Charm and Forseti.
"We've got a bit of time for I Am Groot," Scott said. "He's placed in his last two trials, and the winners of those trials have both come out and won races (Wind Of Change and We Can Party). He could be a nice staying type of three-year-old.
"Ever Charm is another one on debut on Sunday. He won his trial in good style. He's a nice horse who could have a big summer in front of him.
"Forseti ran fifth on debut and might be a quick improver on that. We don't think she was comfortable in the heavy ground that day and she's made good progress since.
"If they all run up to what they've been showing at home, it could be quite a good day for the team on Sunday."