Wanganui Guineas next target for impressive Te Rapa winner

Trainer Shaune Ritchie believes he has a handy three-year-old on his hands after Whiskey (NZ) (Burgundy) broke his maiden status with an impressive victory over 1200m at Te Rapa on Saturday. Ritchie, who prepares the son of Burgundy with training partner Colm Murray at their Cambridge base, was confident his charge was a good winning chance at just his second raceday run despite tackling older horses and the tricky Heavy10 surface on offer. “I thought he would definitely handle the ground as he had won with authority on similar going when he won his trial at Ellerslie before we lined him up at Ruakaka,” Ritchie said. “He ran fourth on debut at Ruakaka and although he was beaten by nearly eight lengths, it was still a good effort. “He ran into Kenny Rae’s pair in Dream Queen and Follow Your Dreams, who are both very nice horses and I don’t

Ritchie Hopes for Big Payoff in Wellington Cup

Success in Saturday's Gr. 3 NZ Campus of Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup would be the ultimate payoff for a bit of friendly advice between friends several years ago. Leading jockey Jason Waddell was keeping himself busy and building fitness for a return to race riding and was one of the busiest jockeys at the breeze-up session for the 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale. Reviewing the breeze-up footage, Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie noticed that Waddell was aboard several of the two-year-olds he liked and decided to approach the jockey and ask his thoughts. “I asked Jason if there was anything he’d ridden that had given him a particularly good feel and he said this son of Tavistock was the pick of them,” Ritchie said. That horse was Excalibur, knocked down to long-time Ritchie family client and friend Peter Mitchell for $150,000 at Karaka and now an equal

Derby ambitions with Swords Drawn

Promising three-year-old Swords Drawn added a second stakes placing to his record on Saturday when running third to Cutadeel in the Listed Three-Year-Old Salver (2100m) at Ellerslie on Sunday. He has impressed his trainer Shaune Ritchie in his six career starts-to-date and he believes Swords Drawn has the potential to contest the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie in March. “I was impressed (with his run on Sunday),” Ritchie said. “I love the way this horse attacks the line. Jason Waddell (jockey) came off him and said it took him until the 1200 to pull him up. “It will be nice to give him a maiden mile, and you would think hopefully a win, in preparation before the Avondale Guineas (Gr.2, 2100m) and his main target is naturally the Derby.” – NZ Racing News – 18/12

Ritchie in for The Good Fight

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is excited heading into the Christmas-New Year period with his in-form racing team. Heading that list is High Chaparral four-year-old The Good Fight who recorded his second career win from eight starts in the Pathways – The Immigration Specialists Premier (2400m) at Te Rapa on Saturday. Ritchie has a lot of time for the gelding, who he purchased out of Rich Hill Stud’s 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft for $300,000, but said he still has a bit of maturing to do. “He’s a beautiful type of horse with a good pedigree and he’s starting to show that now,” Ritchie said. “It’s very hard to win $300,000 back, he’s got to do a lot more yet, but fortunately he’s starting to step up to the plate and showing what his pedigree and physique is allowing him to do.” While he has nominated The Good

Wellington Cup Aim For Excalibur

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is eyeing a tilt at the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) in January with Excalibur who will begin his Cups campaign in the MWIS Lawyers (1400m) at Ruakaka on Saturday. The Tavistock gelding is the winner of six races, including three in a row before his unplaced last-start run in the Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m), but his trainer isn’t expecting too much from the gelding fresh-up. “He’s going to be in need of the run,” Ritchie said. “He hasn’t raced since the Auckland Cup and he’s a five-year-old now, so I would expect the 1400m to be too sharp for him. “We’re just looking to work our way up. I don’t think he was competitive last year as a four-year-old until he got to 2000m-plus, so I wouldn’t think being a year older he would be any different this preparation. “We thought we would take advantage of

Magic Touch With Mare

It’s no surprise that Eilish McCall is looking forward to her next ride on the under-rated mare Blackmagicwoman. The Cambridge apprentice has been aboard the daughter of Shocking in all bar one of her four wins with the latest victory coming at Pukekohe last Saturday when Blackmagicwoman charged home to win in the last stride over 2100m. “She’s an absolute gem. I love riding her. She’s such a pleasure,” McCall said. McCall is apprenticed to Blackmagicwoman’s trainer, Shaune Ritchie, and her first win came on the mare at Te Rapa 12 months ago. McCall’s 4kg claim aided Blackmagicwoman on Saturday, reducing the weight to 51.5kgs, 2.5kg below the minimum. “Blackmagicwoman is such an honest mare,” Ritchie said. ”She’s no world-beater, but the owners are having a lot of fun.” – NZ Racing Desk

Credit Deflected To McCall

Cambridge apprentice Eilish McCall didn’t have a ride at Rotorua on Saturday, but she earned praise for one of the winners. Trudy Thornton was quick to divert praise onto McCall after she guided Magnanimous Man to his upset win in the King Country Rugby Supporters 2200. Thornton was having her first ride on the Nom du Jeu four-year-old and got the best from the out-of-form gelding, getting him home by two and a quarter lengths from Gabriel at the odds of 29/1 for Ritchie, who part-owns him with stable client Gerard Peterson. “It’s all thanks to Eilish (McCall),” said Thornton of the Ritchie apprentice. “She rides him in work and she suggested that I would suit him. That’s how I got the ride. She also told me how best to ride him so she deserves all the credit.” Apart from regularly riding Magnanimous Man in his trackwork, McCall has ridden

No Rush With Well-Performed Duo

The two highest-rated horses in the Cambridge yard of Shaune Ritchie will make later returns to racing in the new season. The Hawke’s Bay carnival doesn’t feature in the plans for either his Group One winner Devise or the black type performer Sultan Of Swing. “Devise is a better horse in the later spring and early summer so we’ll let the Hastings races go by,” Ritchie said. The Oaks Stud-bred and raced daughter of resident stallion Darci Brahma raced consistently well in strong company throughout her career before she earned major honours in the Gr.1 Haunui Farm Classic (1600m) at Otaki. “Her main goal will probably be the Herbie Dyke Stakes, which she had to be scratched from last time because of rain on the day,” Ritchie said. Meanwhile, Devise’s unraced sister Revise has been turned out after placing at the trials. “She’s obviously got plenty of pedigree and has

Ruakaka Return For Youngster

Promising two-year-old Jon Wick will head back to the scene of his latest triumph to make his third race day appearance. The son of Thewayyouare produced a bold front-running performance over 1200m to score at Ruakaka and will return there on July 14. “There’s a 1000m race and he’s got enough gate speed to get away with that,” trainer Shaune Ritchie said. Jon Wick is a son of the Gr.2 Japan-New Zealand Trophy (1600m) winner Casabella Lane. – NZ Racing Desk

Cup Bid On Daytona Red’s Radar

A trip to Riccarton is the long-term plan for the progressive stayer Daytona Red. The four-year-old won three races during his last campaign and was turned out after an impressive performance to claim top honours at the expense of the highly-regarded Felaar in the Listed New Zealand St Leger (2500m) at Trentham. “He’s been back in work for a week and his main goal will be the New Zealand Cup,” trainer Shaune Ritchie said. “He can handle some wet tracks so that makes it easier to get him ready.” Ritchie has also welcomed another promising stayer back into the fold with Excalibur in light work. “He doesn’t handle wet ground so we’ll potter along with him and go along slowly,” he said. “The Counties and Waikato Cups will be races on his radar and maybe the Wellington Cup.” Excalibur made impressive progress through the summer with a hat-trick of distance

Matamata Breeders Stakes target for flying filly

Progressive two-year-old filly Bella Mente set herself up for a tilt at stakes company later this month with a determined victory at Matamata on Sunday. The Shaune Ritchie-trained youngster had finished an unlucky third at the same venue last month when badly interfered with on the home turn. This time there was no such drama as rider Michael Coleman provided her with a perfect run behind the pacemakers before launching an assault early in the run home. Bella Mente set out after race-favourite Killin, who had assumed control at that point, and in a driving finish she fought best to claim victory in the 1200m contest. Ritchie was keen for his charge to gain some more experience at the Matamata track as he sets his sights on a tilt at the Gr. 2 J Swap Contractors Ltd. Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at the venue on February 23. “We’ve been thinking

Bella Mente secures valuable Group One placing

While he may not have witnessed a winning run, it was hard to take the smile off trainer Shaune Ritchie’s face after his gutsy two-year-old filly Bella Mente picked up an invaluable placing at Group One level when finishing third in Saturdays Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni.  The nuggety El Roca filly had entered the race as one of the outsiders for the contest despite a tidy form-line that included a fourth placed finish in the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at her most recent start. Ritchie and Bella Mente’s large group of owners took the option to forego a start in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie in favour of Saturday’s event and that judgment was well and truly vindicated as she fought bravely in the home straight to finish within half-a length of eventual winner Yourdeel. A delighted Ritchie admitted he was starting

Sultan Of Swing back in winning rhythm

Class galloper Sultan of Swing returned to winning form with a vengeance when he dealt to his open-class rivals over 1600m at Te Rapa. The Shaune Ritchie-trained six-year-old indicated he was nearing his peak after a sound effort for second at Ellerslie a fortnight ago and franked that form with his ninth career victory on Saturday. After enjoying a cosy run against the rail in midfield throughout, rider Jonathan Riddell had Sultan Of Swing handily placed to make his challenge one-off the fence at the 300m.The pair burst to the lead shortly after and maintained a solid gallop to the line to defeat race favourite Aligns With Me, who stormed home out wide to snatch second from He’s Cavalier. Ritchie thought his charge was ready to return to the winner’s enclosure although he was hesitant to label him a winner prior to the race due to the tricky track conditions


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