Veteran jockey David Walsh will team up with Group I winner Time Keeper in Saturday's $200,000 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings.
Walsh, 52, who is closing in on Lance O'Sullivan's record for most New Zealand wins, hasn't ridden the Graeme Nicholson-trained Stravinsky entire since finishing sixth on him in the Wanganui Cup in November 2010.
Walsh had ridden Time Keeper to a six-length win in the Group III Manawatu Classic (2000m) at Awapuni earlier that year and was aboard for a fourth placing in the Group III Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben and his sixth placing in the Group I Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm in between.
"I rode him early on as a 3-year-old but I couldn't ride him when he won the Easter [at Ellerslie] because he didn't have enough weight," Walsh said yesterday.
"I'm pleased to be back on him. He didn't get the best of runs on the first day. He covered a bit of extra ground but he still stuck on well and you know the mile [1600m] is going to suit him even better than the 1400m the other day."
Time Keeper was a brave sixth in the Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings on September 1. He has again drawn barrier 11 on Saturday but Walsh, who has taken just the one ride at the meeting, is confident he can be competitive.
"He'd have to be a chance," Walsh said.
"When he comes right he normally holds his form. He's matured a lot since I last rode him and maybe he's just starting to come right now. On his day, we know he's a pretty good horse."
Nicholson yesterday said Time Keeper was being treated for an infection which had led to swelling of a fetlock on a front leg but he was optimistic it would be OK by Saturday.
Nine-time Group I winner Mufhasa, who finished second in this race last year to Jimmy Choux, looks the horse to beat, despite yesterday drawing barrier 10.
TAB bookmakers yesterday installed him as a $4 favourite on their final field fixed-odds market, in from $5 on their futures market.
Xanadu is the $4.50 second favourite ahead of Guiseppina at $6.50, He's Remarkable at $8.50 and Green Supreme at $10.
Makfi Stakes runner-up Xanadu yesterday drew favourably in barrier four in a capacity 14-horse field, while Guiseppina drew nine and Green Supreme 13.
Justanexcuse, third in the Makfi, drew one, with He's Remarkable in two and Fleur de Lune starting from three. Postman's Daughter is likely to press forward from barrier 12, with three-time Group I winner Shez Sinsational set to tuck back from the outside gate.
Meanwhile, there's plenty of Waikato interest in Australian racing on Saturday.
The Shaune Ritchie-trained Zurella and the Graham Richardson-trained Single Minded, both bred and raced by The Oaks Stud's Dick Karreman, contest the Group III A$150,000 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield; while the Gary Hennessy-trained Ocean Park tackles the Group I A$400,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m), in which he has drawn barrier five.
The John Sargent-trained Quintessential contests the A$350,000 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick, while on the undercard the Murray Baker-trained Dundeel puts his unbeaten record on the line in the A$200,000 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) with James McDonald booked to ride.
The Graeme Rogerson and Lee Freedman-trained Dowager Queen is entered for the 1600m Benchmark Rating 85, with Jason Collett riding, while the Graeme Boyd-trained Ginga Dude tackles the A$200,000 Hill Stakes (2000m), a race in which Polish Knight is a rival.
Missing from the Tea Rose Stakes is Pussy Willow, who has returned home after failing in the Furious Stakes at Warwick Farm, after which she was coughing.
Trainer Stephen McKee said Pussy Willow would have some time in the paddock to recover and then return to training in preparation for a possible tilt at the One Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 17.
Meanwhile, Cambridge 4-year-old mare Full Of Spirit will have her next start in the Group II A$220,000 Blazer Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on October 6.
Owners Haunui Farm said on its website that trainer Roger James "couldn't be happier" with the Flying Spur mare after her 1400m open handicap win at Ellerslie when resuming on September 8.
"She is a tough mare, has been from day one, and it took her a little while to settle back into the stable," Haunui's Mark Chitty said.
"Her first start at Ellerslie was just to put a line in the sand and to help us decide where to from there and it looks like all roads are leading to Melbourne."
Full Of Spirit won the Group III Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) in Sydney last season.
Chitty said all going well, Full Of Spirit would remain in Melbourne to target spring features.
- © Fairfax NZ News