A winning double plus four minor placings left Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh well pleased with his day’s work at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Marsh produced the quinella in race four, the Wig Wilson Memorial Mile (1600m) with Osaka (NZ) (Makfi) and Masetto (NZ) (Cape Blanco) and repeated the dose in race 6, a rating 65 1200m contest with Laneway Flirting (NZ) (El Roca) and Windspeed (NZ) (Tavistock).
Earlier talented sprinter Mega Bourbon (NZ) (El Roca) finished a game second to Tevere (NZ) (Contributer) in an open 1200m event, while exciting two-year-old filly Mazzolino (NZ) (Savabeel) went within half a length of a winning debut in stakes company when she pushed Lord Cosmos (Pierro) hard in the Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Services Stakes (1200m).
Marsh was delighted to see Osaka back in the winner’s circle at his third start in a new preparation following a frustrating spring campaign in Melbourne.
“Most of our horses went super on Saturday and I’m thrilled with them,” Marsh said.
“It was great to see Osaka bounce back like that as we know he has a touch of class about him and he really didn’t get a chance to show that when he went over to Melbourne in the spring.
“He had two of his three starts on very firm tracks and I think that took its toll on him, but he seems to have found a new lease of life back in familiar surroundings and with the fire out of the ground.
“Unfortunately, he has hit his peak when there really isn’t a lot more around for him.
“There is an open mile back at Te Rapa later this month and also a nice stayers championship series at Ruakaka over the winter with a $60,000 final so we might just tick him along and look at that type of race.
“I think he can pick up a good race in the spring so there is plenty to look forward to.”
Marsh had been expecting a good performance from both Laneway Flirting and Windspeed but admitted he had favoured Windspeed to get the better of her stablemate.
“I thought that both of those fillies went a terrific race,” he said.
“I had thought Windspeed might just have the wood on Laneway Flirting, but she kicked back very strongly to get the win although there wasn’t much between them at the finish.
“There is a nice 1100m race for the three-year-olds back at Te Rapa in a fortnight so it is likely they will clash again there.”
Marsh was also delighted to see richly bred two-year-old Mazzolino perform up to expectations on debut when narrowly beaten after disputing the pace throughout her 1200m contest.
The Savabeel filly is the younger sister of multiple stakes winner Atishu (NZ), who finished third in the Gr.3 Hawkesbury Cup (1600m) at her last start, with Marsh of the belief Mazzolino will measure up to the best three-year-old fillies in her next campaign.
“Mazzolino is just another of those great fillies bred by Waikato Stud and she was very brave on Saturday,” he said.
“She got softened up in front but just refused to give it away and was still trying to come back at the winner at the post.
“We said we would only give her one start as a two-year-old so she is off to the paddock on Monday.
“She has taken everything in her stride and I fully expect her to be very competitive in the age group classics next season.”
Marsh is also looking forward to his assault on the Queensland winter carnival kicking off with promising stayer Chakana (NZ) (Reliable Man) set to run in an 1800m contest at the Gold Coast on Wednesday.
“Chakana gets us underway on Wednesday and from there she will have another run over 2000m before we look at races like the Ipswich Cup (Listed, 2150m) if she is going well enough,” he said.
“El Vencedor is entered for a 1350m event at Doomben on Saturday with James McDonald to ride, while Iconic Star could line up in a Listed 1110m race (Bright Shadow) for the fillies and mares depending on track conditions before she heads to the Gold Coast broodmare sale.”