The now Sydney-based Kiwi horseman Craig Ritchie is quietly confident heading into Friday’s 2012 Wagga Wagga Cup in New South Wales with his New Zealand raider Roi D’Jeu who races for the first time since February.
The Montjeu six-year-old travelled across the Tasman for their debut down under back in May last year when they ran a brave fifth to Ironstein in the Listed WJ McKell Cup (2400m).
With Ritchie moving his operation from Cambridge to Sydney a year ago, Roi D’Jeu raced in Australia for a second time last start when finishing two and a half lengths away sixth to Geegees Blackflash in the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2200m) in Tasmania.
On Friday they return to the track and will again be taking on a top field of local hopes when they run in the $140,000 Listed 2012 Wagga Wagga Cup (2000m), and Ritchie is hoping for the improvement he knows the horse has.
“He’s a talented horse on his day,” Ritchie said.
“He probably went only ordinary in Tasmania I thought.
“He’s up to winning this sort of race at his best.”
One of a capacity 16 starters plus two emergencies engaged in this year’s Wagga Wagga Gold Cup field, Roi D’Jeu will be ridden by apprentice hoop Josh Adams.
The third heaviest weighted hopeful with 55kg trailing Extra Zero (58kg) and Lucky Eighty Eight (57kg), Roi D’Jeu is currently drawn in barrier nine but will come into seven if the two spares fail to gain a start.
Their local form back home during the summer was impressive with two wins, including one over the Wagga Cup distance of 2000m before a devastatingly close second to Six O’Clock News in the Group 3 Trentham Stakes (2100m).
Tested right up to two miles when seventh in the 2011 Auckland Cup and fourth in the 2010 NZ Cup as the beaten favourite, Roi D’Jeu also won over the 2000-metres back in October 2010 by four lengths on a Heavy (10) course but can handle any ground.
While his first-up record is a shocker with just two minor placings from seven attempts Ritchie believes that this is the right race for them to break their first-up duck.
“He’s been working good and seems 110 per cent going into his first run,” Ritchie said.
“He finished second over a mile first up last time in New Zealand to one of our best milers over there.
“A couple of his races fresh, he’s run good races.”
Some of their notable Wagga Gold Cup rivals for Friday include the Gai Waterhouse-trained last start Canterbury winner Rain Drum, and Gwenda Markwell’s Murrumbidgee Cup victor at Wagga last time out Agent Bauer.
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