Prolific New Zealand trainer Roger James is awaiting confirmation that his progressive colt Rasteau will gain a start in Saturday’s $150,000 Listed Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) before embarking on the flight across the Tasman.
Redoute’s Choice three-year-old Rasteau is one of 30 nominations for the Hawkesbury Guineas this year and with the race having a capacity field of just 16 starters plus four emergencies, he is far from assured of a spot.
Hawkesbury Guineas acceptances are taken Thursday morning, delayed by the extended Easter break, which poses a huge dilemma for James as the final flight out of New Zealand leaves tonight.
“I don’t really want to make the trip if he is not going to get a run,” James said.
“So we are investigating through New Zealand Bloodstock if we can get another plane on Thursday after the fields are known.”
To date Rasteau, purchased for $700,000 as a yearling, has started three times for one win and one minor placing.
His sole victory was over 1400m last October, however James has big plans for the lightly-raced colt.
“Rasteau was a high-priced yearling and you want to give these sort of horses a chance at three to prove themselves and your prize money over there (Australia) is so good,” James said.
“I’m bringing him over not on what he has done on the track, rather what he has shown me at home.”
In his October win Rasteau was able to defeat On The Level, the Murray Baker-trained galloper who finished a game third to star colt Jimmy Choux in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March.
“In that win he (Rasteau) skipped five or six lengths clear on the turn and held to win, but the other horse has shown himself to be a nice horse,” James said.
A run in the Hawkesbury Guineas would be the first start in an ambitious winter campaign for Rasteau with James looking at Group glory during the Brisbane Carnival.
“The Queensland Guineas is the race I’m setting him for but he’s got to get some money in the kitty to get into the field,” James said.
Rasteau’s total career earnings to date sit at just $5,890.
The Group Queensland Guineas (1600m) will run at Eagle Farm on June 11.
“Even though he is lightly raced I do rate him and hopefully I’ll know more about him getting a start by Wednesday and I can make a definite decision about putting him on the flight,” James said.
“With some of the information I’ve been able to put together he could be as high as 16th in the order after dropouts.”
If Rasteau makes the field, jockey Tommy Berry from Tulloch Lodge will take the mount.
Other notable Hawkesbury Guineas nominations include the Peter Snowden-trained Commands filly Palomares, Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO Guineas winner Torio’s Quest, Chris Waller’s in-form filly Red Tracer coming off back-to-back stakes wins and Street Cry colt Sea Lord.
There are two other black-type features set to run at Hawkesbury on Saturday with the $150,000 Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) attracting 26 nominations and the $150,000 Listed Darley Crown (1300m) drawing 25 early entries.
James is gearing up for a big Saturday at Hawkesbury having also nominated five-year-old Stravinsky gelding Firebolt for the 2011 Hawkesbury Rowley Mile.
Firebolt is no stranger to the Australian racing scene having had a number of starts around the nation including three victories, most recently in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill last September.
“I’ve nominated Firebolt but Rasteau is my main reason for coming over,” James said.
Also among James’ Brisbane Winter Carnival hopes are four-year-old Thorn Park mare The Party Stand who won the Group 1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) two starts back and three-year-old filly Insurgent coming off a third place finish in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).
“The Party Stand will be a Hollindale / Doomben Cups horse, while Insurgent will be on an Oaks campaign,” James said.