Big test for in-form Cherry Lane
Nick Bishara didn’t want to race his in-form mare Cherry Lane this weekend, but she’s doing so well that he feels he must. The South Auckland horseman had hoped Cherry Lane’s laststart victory at Ellerslie on May 29 would be enough of a leadin to her next winter target, the Listed Tauranga Classic [1400m] later this month, but she has convinced him to start her in the Greene Racing Mile at Te Rapa tomorrow. “She’s just done that well, so she’ll have a run around there with Andrew Calder on board, who knows her so well,” he said. “Being an older mare, it’s taken her a couple of runs to come right but I’m thrilled with her, and she loves Te Rapa.” The broodmare paddock is beckoning the six-year-old mare, and Bishara is keen to gain some black-type with her before then, highlighting the Gr.3 Winter Cup [1600m] at Riccarton in August as another possible target. Bishara’s other possible runners at Te Rapa are Ruby Showoff in the Te Akau Racing 3-Year-old [1400m] and Rising Ransom in a Rating 65 event over 2100m. “Ruby Showoff is a very nice horse. She’s a maiden up against two-win horses but she gets a weight concession,” Bishara said. “I’ve got a lot of time for Rising Ransom. He just hasn’t had the rub of the green. He’s two on the ballot but don’t discount him if he gets a start. He just got held up last start and Vinnie Colgan said he’d have run second or third without that.” Bishara has had a good season to date, recording 11 wins, one short of his career best, and earnings of more than $225,000. Meanwhile Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh concedes that his season target of 100 winners is probably beyond reach, but he’s keen to keep progressing towards that goal with a big team at Te Rapa. Marsh reached 97 wins in the 2018-19 season and was keen to better that mark this term, but with 82 wins to his name with less than two months remaining, he doubts whether this is the season he can get to the century mark. “It’s probably a little out of reach now but we’ve still got not bad numbers ticking over. We had eight at Matamata and we’ll run 10 on Saturday,” Marsh said. Marsh sits second in the national trainers’ premiership behind runaway leader Jamie Richards and with four wins already this month, he remains one of the form trainers in the country. He is hopeful of continuing his winning form at Te Rapa with several good prospects, selecting the quartet of Fighting Fire, Lock Up, Chakana, and He’s The Man as his strongest chances. “He’s The Man won really nicely last start. He probably should have won it even easier but he switched off a little when he got to the front,” Marsh said in assessing the Dunstan Feeds 1400. “He’s always shown us good ability, and he’s come up really nicely this preparation. He’s drawn well in barrier two and has Michael Mcnab on, so there’s a lot of positives and we’d like to think he might be winning again.” Lock Up and Chakana clash in the Fairview Motors Mile and appear leading chances. “Lock Up went well last start, and getting up to the mile really suits him. He’s drawn well in three. “Chakana’s second-up run was great. She’ll be even better with that first run at 1600m, and this race looks right up her alley. We go into that race with two good chances.” Fighting Fire will contest the SVS Starting Gates 1100 as a form runner after winning freshup at Ruakaka, then finishing second at Hawera last start. “His last two runs have been really good. He’s drawn well in barrier four and has done well since his trip away last start. He should be competitive in this.” Marsh’s other runners at Te Rapa are Luca Deli, Spring Success, Appellant, Medalza, Aspiring and Ludus.