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Brighthill Farm bred Al Strada threat in Sires' Produce Gr.1
27 Mar 2013

Wally O'Hearn - The Informant

Al Strada, one of the northern threats to the favourite Recite in Saturday's Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes

Hastings trainer John Bary is confident his talented filly Recite can end the northern domination of the Gr. 1 The Oaks Stud Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes on Saturday.

Stables from the Auckland-Waikato district have continually taken away the spoils from the Awapuni feature decade. You have to go back to the Allan Sharrock-trained Grout to find the last central districts winner of the juvenile feature in 2002. Grout went on to add the Gr. 1 Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes.

Recite has swept all before her in three starts, following up a debut 1000-metre win at Trentham last December with a decisive victory in the Gr. 2 Little Avondale Stud Wakefield Challenge Stakes at Trentham and a game defeat of highly rated Bounding in the Gr. 2 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.

Bary can’t fault Recite going into the $225,000 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes.

“She’s super,” he said. “She worked fantastic on Saturday morning here on our home track with The Knight.

“She’s been beating up my three-year-olds in her work so I’ve had to keep stepping her up (with her workmates). The Knight is an open class horse, who will run in the Flying Handicap on Saturday, so he’s no slug.”

Bary says he really woke up to Recite’s potential when he gave her a gallop after her debut win. “I let her cut loose before the Wakefield,” he said. “It was a Wednesday in at the Hastings track and she nearly broke a minute for 1000 metres when working on her own.

“It was phenomenal work and I knew that day she was something special. The Hombre, who can run good times, ran about 1:02 that day.”

Bary believes the Darci Brahma filly’s last two starts will stand to her on Saturday.

“I’ve been there before and know once they’ve raced in black type races it’s a different kettle of fish from stepping up from an ordinary race. They’ve got that experience in the big races and it’s an advantage.”

Back in 2010 Bary’s champion galloper Jimmy Choux finished third behind Nacho Man in the Sires’ Produce Stakes after filling the same placing in the Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie.

“To be fair to Jimmy, it was his last run and he was going a bit shin-sore,” he said. “Really he had no business running third. He should have been fifth or sixth, but he dug deep.

“It’s a different story with this filly. It’s her fourth run and she is very much on the front foot. Normally two-year-olds can be going shin-sore at this stage, but she’s holding together very well. She just keeps improving.”

Bary has no concerns about the step up to 1400 metres. “Her fight is her key attribute,” he said. “And Mark (Du Plessis) got off her at Matamata and said she could go 1600 now if we wanted.”

One horse who should really appreciate the distance is Touche, who has had to settle for five placings in as many starts since winning on debut at Otaki last September. His recent efforts include a third to Ruud Awakening in the Karaka Million and a second to Al Strada in the Listed Reid & Harrison Slipper at Matamata.

“Recite is a very good filly and I’ve got the utmost respect for her, but I’m confident my horse will go well,” said Touche’s trainer, Johno Benner. “He’ll relish the 1400 metres and he looks like he’s going to have a bright three-year-old career. He’s won almost $100,000 in stakes so he’s done well.”

Touche will be the first Group One starter for 25-year-old Benner, who trained his first winner in the 2008-09 season and has five horses in work at Otaki. Touche was given seven days off after his Matamata trip and regular rider Jonathan Riddell was on hand to ride the horse in training earlier this week.

“It was a good workout and Jonathan was happy with him,” said Benner. “He’s gone up against Ruud Awakening three times and he’s had to travel to Ellerslie and Matamata for his last two races. This time it’s 45 minutes up the road and that’s a big advantage.”

Al Strada, Touche’s Matamata conqueror, is also on target for Saturday. “He’s done everything right,” said trainer Jason Price. “And the good thing about his last run (third in the Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes) is that he proved he’s not a one dimensional horse. He can take a sit.”

Al Strada will again be ridden by Reese Jones, whose major wins includes the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes 15 years ago on Happyanunoit. “I’ve probably only had a ride or two in the race since then,” said Jones. “This will be my best chance to win it again.”

Constellation earned a tilt at the feature through her recent win at Ellerslie when defeating stablemate Horse Warrior, who went on to win his next start.

Charlestown chased Recite home when second in the Wakefield Challenge Stakes and third home that day was first-starter Delzzup, who was fourth at Trentham last time and did enough to warrant a tilt at this Group One.  Delzupp by Patapan

Jason Bridgman has two last start winners ready to step up to their toughest tasks, Quintette, who won fresh-up at Hastings after being stakes-placed in her spring campaign, and Ruthless Lady, a Te Rapa winner.

The other winners in the event are the Michael Pitman-trained El Doute, a son of Redoute’s Choice who won at Invercargill and was runner-up at Wingatui, and the John Sargent-trained Kirramosa.

Like Quintette, he is by former champion two-year-old Alamosa, while he races in the colours of his Palmerston North breeder, Bill Gleeson. Kirramosa looked the part when winning on debut at Matamata earlier in the month, after which a late entry for this race was made.