Taranaki trainer John Wheeler will have his fingers crossed tomorrow as his talented sprinter-miler Jetset Lad (NZ) enters the starting gates for the G3 Manawatu Challenge at Awapuni.
Jetset Lad (5g Elusive City – Jetset Lass by Jetball) was declared a late scratching in the Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham after playing up in the barriers a fortnight ago. “He generally does everything okay until he actually gets into the starting gates,” explained Wheeler. “He is a quiet horse who tends to get very aggressive once he knows he is there to do the business, which has led to the barrier issues he has had from time to time.
“We’ve booked Jonathan Riddell, who rode him during his Queensland campaign last winter and seems to be able to calm him down, so I think we should see a different result this time.”
A win in Saturday’s 1400 metre feature would be a deserved reward for the connections of Jetset Lad. He has been stakes placed on multiple occasions over the past twelve months, finishing runner-up on three consecutive occasions in Queensland as well running third in the G1 Thorndon Mile at Trentham and fourth in the G1 Easter Handicap at Ellerslie.
Wheeler is unsure of the path the horse will take from Saturday as he contemplates races such as the Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie and either the Telegraph Handicap or Thorndon Mile at Trentham.
Jetset Lad won’t have it all his own way on Saturday as he faces several of the major players from his intended last engagement.
Final Touch (Kashani) claimed her maiden Group 1 victory at Trentham in emphatic style and has trained on a treat since. “She has done really well and to be frank I’m a little worried as she is normally a poor track-worker but this week she has really perked up – which is different for her and I don’t know if I like different at this stage,” trainer Karen Parsons said. “Win, lose or draw she will head for a wee break and then we will look at the Telegraph at Trentham or the Te Rapa Sprint in February.
New Zealand Horse of the Year Mufhasa (Pentire) is another major player in the race while there will also be plenty of interest in the appearance of former Singapore galloper Better Than Ever.