Hamilton trainer Graeme Rogerson's hand in this month's Gr.2 US Navy Flag Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa will become clearer after Saturday when he will line-up race hopefuls Comeback and Malambo.
Rogerson and his training partners Debbie and Bailey Rogerson will produce four runners in the US Navy Flag Foxbridge Plate 17 Aug 1200 - Comeback, Malambo, Ottavio and Nuclear Fusion.
Rogerson said Comeback and Malambo were on trial for the Foxbridge Plate and he was hoping both would convince him they were on track for the feature sprint.
"We had been thinking about the Winter Cup (Gr.3, 1600m) for Comeback but he's not happy on the really heavy ground," Rogerson said.
"He's entered for the Foxbridge and the Tarzino or we could turn him out for a spell after this weekend if it looks like he's had enough."
Comeback, one of three stable entries for the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on August 31 alongside More Wonder and Contessa Vanessa, has raced every month since resuming last October, winning seven races this preparation, five straight at the start of autumn.
Stable apprentice Joshua Kam claims 4kg off the Gerry Harvey-bred and raced Makfi five-year-old.
"He's a good horse. It's a big weight though and that's why we've claimed with him. Even then he's giving a stone (6kg) to Malambo,” Rogerson said.
“Our apprentice Shiarna Johnson rides Malambo. Shi's just coming back after injuring her shoulder. Malambo is developing into a lovely mare."
Dual acceptor Nuclear Fusion is likely to contest an earlier race, while last-start winner Ottavio faces a significant rise in class from Rating 65 to open class but Rogerson said he was keen to ensure that race and several others at the meeting got off the ground after initial entries were light.
The Rogerson stable has propped up several races, most notably the three-year-old sprint with seven of the eight entries, part of an overall team of 20 accepted for the meeting.
"They were short of entries. Three races they would have been flat having them had we not added horses. We've been told the club's very happy that we've put these extra horses in," Rogerson said.
"With the three-year-old race, there were only two nominations so we added another six. They were going to go to the trials but they'll go to the races now instead."
While Rogerson ruled out Amazing Team, who needs firmer track conditions than the likely slow footing on Saturday, he was looking forward to seeing several potential spring stakes-race candidates stepping out against the sole non-Rogerson runner, the David Greene-trained Maybeashowoff.
"We've got a nice team in. We'll probably end up with 18 runners but we've supported Gisborne and Wairoa with bigger teams before," Rogerson said.
Rogerson also provided an update on More Wonder and Contessa Vanessa, saying both had pleased in their buildup to new campaigns.
"More Wonder will trial at Taupo (on August 21) and Contessa Vanessa will trial at Te Teko next Tuesday and then we'll make a decision on what we do with her," Rogerson said, ruling More Wonder out of the Foxbridge Plate.
"The horse that's really coming back well is Ferrando. We cleaned his knees up, mainly cartilage, and he’s really pleased us."
Meanwhile, a series of mishaps has meant that there won't be a Team Rogerson presence at the Grand National Festival of Racing at Riccarton.
"We've had a bit of bad luck with our jumpers," Rogerson said.
A stress fracture to Suffice To Say's shoulder, a muscle injury with Gallante, stitches needing removal with Wilijonmcbride, Assign suffering fatal injuries at Rotorua last weekend and a preference to target the Great Northern Steeples with Raisafuasho has led to a rare absence of a Rogerson jumper at the carnival. - NZ Racing Desk