MacKenzie's waiting game to pay off with Averil's Quest
Twelve months away from the racetrack through injury has not diminished the ability of Averil's Quest.
That's the message from the two men who know the mare best - Hamilton trainer Rod MacKenzie and driver James Stormont.
"She hasn't lost any ability. If anything she's better," MacKenzie said yesterday.
"She grew a lot while she was out and the hopples have gone out about four holes."
The five-year-old daughter of Badlands Hanover has won four of her six races, all at Alexandra Park, but she has only one raced in the past 19 months.
"She cracked her right hind pastern as a two-year-old and then cracked the other hind pastern two weeks after her last start in October last year,'' MacKenzie said.
"Apparently they never do the same one twice, but if they do one, the other one becomes susceptible."
McKenzie has her engaged in tonight's $12,000 one-to-four win pace for fillies and mares at Alexandra Park in what looks a strong race with star three-year-old fillies Delightful Christian and Onlyforyou among her rivals.
"I am hopeful of a good run after those trials. She shouldn't be far away," MacKenzie said.
Averil's Quest had her final public hit out at the Auckland workouts last Tuesday, running a close second to Delightful Christian in quick time.
"I got her home in exactly 27 and she wasn't being knocked about."
Safely through this week, the Gr I $100,000 Queen of Hearts for fillies and mares at Alexandra Park on December 14 is Averil's Quest's target.
"She's right up there, I reckon. The Queen of Hearts is the target, and then we may look at going to Christchurch for the mares' features down there."
Stormont, who has driven 1000 winners, doesn't beat about the bush when talking about Averil's Quest.
"She's got the X factor, that is for sure. Last week she felt like she has just gotten stronger,'' he said.
"I've been waiting a long time for her to come back and can't wait for the Queen of Hearts."
MacKenzie is so fond of Averil's Quest, he bought her two-year-old half-sister by McArdle from her breeders when just a foal.
"She's broken in and has heap of speed. She just has a little bit of an atitude so I have eased off her,'' he said.
Tonight's meeting signals the start of the southern invasion ahead of the upcoming summer carnival with representatives of both Mark Purdon and Cran Dalgety down to run.