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Despite finishing midfield in his first attempt at elite company in last month’s Thorndon Mile at Trentham, Stratford trainer Steve Gulliver is convinced his stable star Shadow Fox has what it takes to win over 1600 metres at the highest level.
The lightly raced six-year-old was back in the winner’s circle on the weekend when he once again led all the way to capture the Carters Ashhurst Pohangina Cup at Woodville. Sent out a warm favourite the Keeninsky gelding never gave his five rivals a look in as he set up a solid pace in front before easing clear in the run home to score by three lengths in a smart 1.23.01 for the 1400 metre journey.
Photo: Troy Leggett (Race Images Palmerston North)
Gulliver, who part owns the gelding along with breeder Alistair Murdoch, acknowledged there was one main mission leading into Saturday’s contest.
“We said all we wanted was a Cup to drink from on the way home and that’s what we got,” he joked.
“Seriously though it was good to see him bounce back as he had a pretty tough run at Trentham. He had to work overtime to get the front that day from a wide draw and I think that really told on him at the business end.”
Gulliver is keen to see his charge step up to a mile again in top company as he is a firm believer the horse can cope with the extra distance.
“Plenty of people are saying he won’t get a mile but I reckon he will,” he reiterated.
“He’s still learning the game as he’s only had 13 starts now. When he first went to the races I used to cringe a bit as he was just all over the place with his action even though he won his first two starts.
“He’s just got better with time and I think with some more ringcraft about him he can handle a mile in the top grade.”
With that in mind Gulliver is keen to plot a course to the Gr. 2 Manco Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie on 22 April to test his theory.
“I’ve got the Easter in mind for him so it’s just a matter of working out how we get there,” he said.
“He goes well fresh so we might try and find a race for him up there during in the next month or so and, if he handles going right-handed, we’ll take him back for the Easter in April.” – NZ Racing Desk