Emerging star apprentice Rory Hutchings will seek a first stakes win when he teams up with speedy Hamilton galloper Sweet Suitor in Saturday’s Gr III Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa.
Hutchings has impressed many with his ability in the saddle, kicking home 88 winners in his 18 months of riding so far.
But the lack of a black-type win remains a source of frustration for the Hamilton 17-year-old and it’s an anomaly he intends putting right this weekend.
‘‘I’ve come close. I was beaten a long head in the Japan Trophy at Tauranga [when beaten by Villifye riding Postmans Daughter] but I still haven’t won one yet. Hopefully I can do it this weekend,’’ he said yesterday.
Hutchings was aboard Sweet Suitor at last week’s Te Teko trials when the five-year-old Bachelor Duke gelding left a handy field gasping in his wake.
He allowed Sweet Suitor to jump and run and his mount was able to extend his lead to seven lengths on the line, with Gr I Diamond Stakes winner Warhorse heading the chasing pack.
‘‘His coat has improved since the trial and we’re really happy with him,’’ Hutchings said.
‘‘I ride him every day - he’s one of my favourites - and he’s been working really well. The rain suits him a lot and looking at that field, I think he’s up to it. But there’s a lot of them first-up in the race and you don’t know how ready there are.’’
Saturday’s $70,000 weight-for-age 1200m feature represents a significant rise in class for Sweet Suitor, but it seems a canny move from Hamilton trainers Graeme and Debbie Rogerson as they attempt to take advantage of the vulnerability of others.
Sweet Suitor races well fresh as he showed with his 2 1/2-length win over Foxbridge rival Miko when resuming at Ellerslie on New Zealand Derby day in March.
He led into that with a smart trials win over Antonio Lombardo.
But that win was Rating 85 company; this time it’s weight-for-age and taking on Gr I performers such as last year’s winner Fritzy Boy, Shez Sinsational, Fleur de Lune, Xanadu and Smoulder.
Fritzy Boy has had an interrupted buildup to his title defence with a niggling leg injury, while the trainers of Shez Sinsational and Fleur de Lune have publicly stated that their charges are still some way off their best form.
Wide draws don’t favour Justanexcuse (barrier 16), Special Days (barrier 15), Smoulder (barrier 14) and Te Toro Lass (barrier 13) and Sweet Suitor, from his favourable draw of three, looks well-placed to capitalise.
‘‘He races really well fresh and barrier three will help him a lot,’’ Hutchings said.
‘‘It will allow him to bounce out and either lead or sit outside the leader. Weight-for-age is a step up but most of his starts he’s carried quite a bit of weight anyway. Everything looks positive so far.’’
Xanadu looks a leading chance after yesterday drawing barrier one, while Fleur de Lune drew barrier four, Shez Sinsational five and Baby Guinness six. Fritzy Boy came up with barrier nine.
A full field of 14 was drawn up yesterday with Miko and Swiper The Fox on the ballots.
The Te Rapa track was yesterday rated a slow nine but there was more rain forecast for later in the week.
Racecourse manager Neil Treweek said there had only been 2mm of rain leading up to yesterday afternoon and he was hopeful of a slow track for Saturday but forecast rain could mean a downgrade.
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