Counties Bowl for Endless Drama
Connections of veteran galloper Endless Drama have put a sub-par performance on Saturday behind them and the Group One performer will carry on to the Listed Haunui Farm Counties Bowl (1100m) on November 21.
Sent out the $2.60 favourite for the Listed Legacy Lodge Stakes (1200m) at Te Rapa on Saturday, Endless Drama finished second-last, beating all but pacemaker Ihu.
"I think he was just too fresh," trainer Tony Pike said.
"He just jumped and over-raced. He has had a wind problem for a long time and he just got charging and tried to do it all on one breath and it didn't work."
With regular jockey Leith Innes riding at Riccarton, Chad Ormsby filled the void but the race didn't unfold to suit.
"He will probably head to the Counties Bowl and he will be ridden a lot more quietly," Pike said.
Portland Jimmy wins Ararat Cup
Former Kiwi-galloper Portland Jimmy collected his second Australian victory in just four starts when he took out the Ararat Gold Cup (2000m) on Sunday for trainer Patrick Payne.
Payne entrusted apprentice Laura Lafferty with the ride on the seven-year-old Mettre En Jeu gelding and she responded with a picture-perfect effort to guide him to a comfortable one and a half-length victory.
Lafferty had Portland Jimmy idling nicely in the trail throughout before making his run three off the fence in the home straight. The lightly raced galloper strode clear in the concluding stages and was comfortably holding nearest challenger Wentwood (Pour Moi) at the line.
Payne was quick to praise the apprentice for her cool handling of his charge during the contest.
"He got beaten in the St Arnaud Cup (2000m) last time carrying 60kgs so I thought I'd claim on him and bring his weight down to 54kgs today," Payne said.
"Laura is a real athlete and over the last two-three months she has worked really hard for us so I think she has got a big future.
"We had been hoping he could do that today so now we just have to find the right races for him.
"I think a race like the Traralgon Cup (1900m) later in the month could be ideal for him plus he's a pretty good jumper so he might be able to win a couple of those at the start of next season."
Portland Jimmy has now won seven of his 17 career starts with five of those wins coming in New Zealand when trained at Marton by Fraser Auret before making his way to Payne earlier this year.
Zipping option for Surprise Baby
The days of being sparingly raced may be over for Surprise Baby, with the stayer a chance to run in Saturday's Gr.2 Zipping Classic (2400m) at Sandown before being readied for a busy autumn campaign.
Trainer Paul Preusker told Racing.com he is ready to unleash Surprise Baby after a quiet 12 months which saw him have two runs in between Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) starts.
"We might have a look at the Zipping Classic and get quite busy in the autumn," Preusker said.
Surprise Baby started last Tuesday's Melbourne Cup as the well-backed $6 favourite but never threatened from well back in the field before finishing 13th.
"He came through that with a couple of little things, which you expect from a big field like that, but he went home that night and ate up and he's kept eating since," Preusker said.
"We might give him a stride out on Tuesday and might have him nommed up for the Zipping and just hope for a bit of rain.
"He's right. He's ready to go again."
Preusker explained the reason behind Surprise Baby's rare appearances over the past 12 months was due to an onerous first year of racing under his care.
"He had his first start Horsham Cup day and I think he raced for the whole 12 months.
"An autumn prep wasn't really there for him where as this time it's a lot different so certainly you'll see him feature in the autumn quite strongly hopefully."