Can Jetset Lad get a middle distance or is he just a sprinter-miler?
The answer should be a lot clearer after the New Plymouth galloper contests the Group Three $80,000 Hooker Pacific Taranaki Cup (1800m) on his hometrack tomorrow.
Jetset Lad is once again attempting a middle-distance in his career, his four wins and seven placings having all been all up to 1600 metres.
Twice as a three-year-old the Elusive City gelding attempted a middle distance, the first time when sixth equal the Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie and again when 12th of 16 runners in Jimmy Choux's New Zealand Derby (2400m).
Last start Jetset Lad finished strongly into third after an interrupted run against a quality line up in the Group One Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 28.
Trainer John Wheeler is not totally convinced that Jetset Lad can run out a middle distance, but said the horse deserves another chance to prove himself at the longer trips and what better time than his hometown cup.
''The 1800 (metres) on Saturday will answer a few questions as to where we go from here, said Wheeler yesterday.
''He's, he's a fast paced horse, but if he doesn't see it out I may be forced to put him back to a mile or 1400m. I think that could be his best distances really.''
Wheeler wasn't hoisting the white flag howerver saying the signals were that Jetset Lad was ready to run a big race on Saturday.
''I couldn't be happier with him. He's thrived since the Thorndon and his work has been first class and he does come in well at the weights with 55kg on Saturday.''
Jetset Lad is a ''Jack The Lad'' in the stable and has special needs, according to his trainer.
''He tries to over do things and is a bit too enthusiastic. He's got a funny nature really and quite a hard horse to train and manage.''
A tendency to react badly when load in the starting barriers earlier this season put Jetset Lad's connections on alert, but the gelding appears to have now conquered those problems.
''You've just got to be so careful with him all the time. He's not like the normal relaxed stayer . He's just a bit of a lad really,'' said his trainer.
Wheeler will be giving rider Sam Spratt open riding instructions tomorrow saying the northern hoop rode the horse in the Thorndon Mile so now knows the horse.
''He will be handy, but I'll pretty much leave it to Sam as to what she does so if he can't get any cover she may be obligated to go forward and lead,'' he said. I'm hoping Sam can settle him and I'm hoping he is the winner.''
Meanwhile, Wheeler has a strong team entered for his local meeting including promising two-year-old Lumiere Blue in the other Group Three$75,000 Platinum Homes (NZ) 2YO Classic (1200m).
Lumiere Blue became the first winner of his sire, Cecconi, when scoring narrowly but well at his third start over 1200m at Te Rapa at his latest outing on February 4.
On Saturday, Wheeler will be hoping to break his duck in the black type Taranaki feature for first season gallopers.
It's a race he hwas gone close to winner on more than one occasion and has proved a pathway to bigger riches with Nordic Seal, Kilmore Quay being minor placegetters in the New Plymouth race before winning the Group One Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes at Awapuni at their next outings.
''It wouldn't surprise me if (Lumiere Blue) does the same,'' Wheeler said.
''I like the horse a lot. He's the best attitude that any horse can could ever have,'' adding being slow getting away from the starting gates cost the horse finishing in a higher placing in his first couple of starts.
''He's got it together now though and he's as tough as teak.'
Lumiere Blue will have a change of rider on Saturday, with Hayden Tinsley who was aboard at Te Rapa riding at the Avondale Jockey Club's meeting at Ellerslie.
Taking the reins will be New Plymouth heavyweight rider Shannon Doyle who works for the Wheeler stable and has enjoyed recent success guiding smart South Island three-year-old Bangalore Bullet to wins in the Gore Guineas and Dunedin Guineas.
- Taranaki Daily News