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Raymond Connors’ training talents were showcased on Saturday with a memorable double.
The Wanganui trainer was at Te Rapa to see Max victorious in the Signature Homes Waikato Steeplechase (3900m) and three-quarters of an hour later stablemate She’s Poppy resumed on a top note by claiming the Listed James Bull Rangitikei Gold Cup (1600m) at Awapuni.
|Raymond Connors Photo: Trish Dunell|
He has an outstanding record with jumpers – most notably the three-time Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) winner Hypnotize - but his conditioning skills with the flat members of his team are also first-rate.
Two Gr.3 New Zealand Cups (3200m) with Blood Brotha, who also won a Gr.2 Wellington Cup (2400m) and ran fourth in the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m), and a Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) with his Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and Gr.1 AJC Derby (2400m) placegetter King Johny emphasise Connors’ ability.
She’s Poppy was making her first appearance for six months, She’s Poppy came with a well-timed run under Shaun McKay to beat a game Ringo, who gave the winner seven kilos.
Meanwhile, Connors will try to plot different paths this winter with Max and Wise Men Say.
“I’ll definitely be trying to keep them apart, but at some point they might have to clash,” Connors said.
He has yet to confirm Max’s immediate future, who has now won four of his seven starts over the big fences.
“I haven’t got any immediate thoughts at the moment, but longer-term probably the Grand National,” Connors said.
With Ellerslie out of action, he will make a decision on whether Wise Men Say will defend his Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) after he runs in the Irvine’s McGregor Grant Steeplechase (4000m) on June 3.
“I want to see how he handles the course here at Te Rapa first,” Connors said.
Max adapted with ease on Saturday and came from a long way back for rider Isaac Lupton, who has been aboard the Gallant Guru gelding in all of his jumping wins, to run down Justa Charlie with Thenamesbond taking third from Shamal.
“It was a very good effort. He got a wee way off them, but he jumped well and it’s all worked out nicely,” Connors said. – NZ Racing Desk.