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BALLYMORE FOUR IN WEEK

Four wins during the week including a double at Te Rapa on Saturday has trainer Pam Gerard excited about the prospects for her Ballymore Stables team leading into the busiest period of racing in the country over the summer months.

After wins earlier in the week by Myrtle Creek and Let’s Say Grace, exciting sprinter/miler Tevere strolled home in a rating 74 1200m contest on Saturday, while later in the card promising three-year-old filly Sassy Merlot made it two wins from just four starts when she downed her older rivals over 1400m in a strong rating 65 event.

Gerard, who prepares the New Zealand arm of the Ballymore operation in partnership with Michael Moroney, had been expecting to see a lift in performance by the team once the tracks began to firm up and is keen to build on the momentum that has been created.

“We’ve got some very nice young horses coming through, but we needed to get them racing consistently on good tracks to see the best from them,” she said.

“We seem to be getting a good roll on now and that really lifts everyone’s spirits, the staff, the owners and people associated with us and that is a good feeling.”

Gerard was especially impressed with her Te Rapa winners, who both have bigger and better things in store for them over the summer.

“I thought Tevere was great and looking at her record you could make a case that she should be unbeaten.

“She has won three from six and didn’t have much luck when she did get beaten.

“She has been a tough nut at times as she is very spirited, but I think that is what makes a good mare.

“Gordon Cunningham, who bred and races her, has been very patient and let us take our time and that is starting to pay dividends now.

“We will be having a discussion this week about where we go next and there are a number of options.

“We could let her make her way through the grades or aim a little higher and go for a race like the Hallmark Stud Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, so there are decisions to make.”

Gerard was also pleased with Sassy Merlot who could also feature on Boxing Day at Ellerslie.

“Sassy Merlot has needed the dry tracks to excel and she got that at Te Rapa,” she said.

“It’s a big ask for a three-year-old to take on the older horses in that grade and she ended up winning very convincingly.

“We had late scratched her when the track deteriorated at Matamata as we knew we had this race as a perfect back-up plan.

“A race like the Uncle Remus Stakes (Listed, 1400m) on Boxing Day is a nice target for her as I think at the moment the 1400m is as far as she wants to go.

“She will have to take on the boys in that race, but after what she did on Saturday I’m not afraid of that.”

Boxing Day at Ellerslie is shaping up as a massive day for the stable with proven performer Harlech likely to tackle the Gr.1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (2000m) along with Australian-based stablemate Sound who is heading to New Zealand off the back of a strong victory in the Gr.2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown.

Harlech had no luck when finishing close up in fifth in Saturday’s Gr.1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) with Gerard contemplating a gear change for his next run.

“Harlech got screwed sideways at the start and that pretty much put paid to his chances,” Gerard said.

“I thought he ran super coming off the back of a 60-day break, but he had too much to do over the last 600m to be a winning chance.

“I had toyed with the idea of putting the blinkers on him and I think we will take that option in the Zabeel Classic.

“He pulled up fine and should be at his peak on Boxing Day.

“Sound is on his way here and will also target the Zabeel Classic along with the Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m) at Te Rapa in February.

“He was originally coming for the Auckland Cup (Gr.1, 3200m), but the way he has been going lately he will really suit the weight-for-age conditions of the Zabeel.

“He is in his last season of racing and is still an entire so a Group One win under his belt, to go with his five other stakes victories, will put him in the box seat for a stud career.” – NZ Racing Desk 
[12 Dec 21]

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