Lightly raced Weissmuller (NZ) staked his claim for the G1 NZ Derby when leaving a competitive field of three-year-olds in his wake at Trentham on Saturday.
The John Kiernan trained gelding left little doubt he was right on target for the Ellerslie classic after a powerhouse performance in the G3 Wellington Stakes (1600m). “We were here today to make a final decision and it doesn’t surprise me what he’s done,” Kiernan claimed. “They walked and sprinted home but the big, roomy track with its camber makes all the difference to a horse like him.”
Weissmuller was a comfortable winner on debut at Otaki last month but a pedestrian pace brought about his downfall at Awapuni. He finished sixth after racing at the back of the field in a race with no tempo.
Based at Te Horo Beach, Weissmuller settled in the last trio at Trentham before jockey Johnathon Parkes urged him forward. “I was going to ride him a bit handier but he didn’t begin that flash,” Parkes said. “Once he got into the clear he did the rest easily. He relaxes and can round off his races.”
Game filly Lucky Country (Darci Brahma) raced on the pace and stuck on gamely in the run home with Sam Mesi (Savabeel) arriving late for third ahead of Axl Rose (Thorn Park).
Weissmuller (3g Handsome Ransom – Belongs In Lights by Belong to Me) is a younger brother to former stablemate Travolta who finished sixth in last year’s NZ Derby. He transferred to Gai Waterhouse and has already won twice across the Tasman.
Their dam Belongs In Lights was tailed off at her only start as an autumn three year-old at Paeroa. Her latest foal is an unnamed 2yo filly by Cecconi.
Wellfield Lodge sire Handsome Ransom has been in the news with rising stayer Ransomed (NZ). He will be one of the favourites for the G2 Wellington Cup at Trentham on January 26.
Handsome Ransom stands for a $4,400 (inc gst) service fee at the Palmerston North stud. He is a son of Red Ransom and won the 2003 Black Opal Stakes before finishing second to subsequent G1 Caulfield Guineas winner In Top Swing in the inaugural Golden Rose.