Peter McKay had contemplated turning out his talented sprinting three-year-old Cavallo Veloce after his stakes placing at Hastings earlier this month.
The Matamata trainer was delighted with the O'Reilly colt's performance in the Listed NZB Finance Sprint (1200m), chasing home previous-start Gr.3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) winner and Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1200m) runner-up Princess Kereru and subsequent Gr.2 Easter Handicap (1600m) winner Endless Drama.
"I was halfway thinking he'd done enough. He'd given us confidence that he could foot it with the best sprinters for next season," McKay said.
"But when it's a Group race back against his own age group so close to home, we had to have a go."
Cavallo Veloce, whom McKay races with his wife Kim and Te Awamutu businessman Wayne John, looks one of the best chances in a vintage Gr.3 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.
McKay said his charge had trained on well since Hastings and from barrier six, he was hoping to get an economical run in the first half of the field before unleashing his trademark dazzling sprint.
"He seems to have a pretty good turn of foot over 1200m. Over 1200m, he relaxes well and then he can really reel off a quick closing sectional," McKay said.
"When he won at Wellington, he ran home in 33 seconds (33.05) and he was half-pulling up waiting for them. This is a good field on Saturday and he's had a long season but if he can get a good enough run, he can produce that sprint and he should go close."
Cavallo Veloce hasn't raced beyond 1400m so far but that wasn't McKay's intention.
"We had been hoping to get him ready for the 2000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) and then for the Karaka Million (1600m) but he had bad boils when he was getting prepared for those races and missed work and we had to keep freshening him up.
"It showed us what he was able to do as a sprinter but we would have liked to have pushed him out over a mile and we probably didn't see the best of him over 1400m in the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2) last month either.
"It was a pretty average track and he was trying hard to make ground. Overall, we were pretty happy with him and we were thrilled with his Hastings run.
"He got a squeeze at the 500m and we thought he was going to run last, so he did well to finish third. Princess Kereru has been mixing it against the best sprinters all season and the second horse (Endless Drama) had good Australian form and he's come out and won the Easter Handicap last weekend."
McKay said Cavallo Veloce would spell after the Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes and while the summer Group One sprints were in consideration for next season, he was keen to test his charge over 1600m in the spring.
"Shaun [McKay, jockey] says he might pull for the first couple of strides in his races but as soon as he sits behind another horse he drops the bit and relaxes so hopefully he can get a strong mile.
"Those Group One sprints aren't till later in the season and if we can get him up to a mile, that's where the good money races are in the spring." - NZ Racing Desk