Morning Briefing

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Mark Walker trains 1,000th winner

Te Akau head trainer Mark Walker was celebrating another milestone victory this season, as he saddled his 1,000th New Zealand winner when Zourion (Zoustar) made a winning debut in a 1100-metre contest at Taupo. Sent off favourite following an impressive trial success at Tauranga last month, she rallied well after being challenge inside the final 150 metres to beat the Stephen Marsh-trained Sako (Ardrossan) by half-a-length with stablemate Sky On Fire (Exceed And Excel) a further three and a quarter lengths back in third place. “I was getting pretty close to the mark before I left for Singapore and it’s great to tick that off today for sure,” Walker said. “I think it was a good effort because she only went into it with a 700-metre trial and the filly that ran third is a stakes winner and I’d heard quite good things about the second horse. I think the form of the race will be really strong and if we’re happy with the way she pulls up we’ll probably run her in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.” On training his 1000th winner, Walker paid tribute to Te Akau heads David and Karyn Ellis. “I’m especially indebted to Dave and Karyn who do all the hard work putting the syndicates together and there has been so many great owners,” he said. “They have put years into getting to this level with ownership and there are just so many loyal owners there, it’s incredible. We have trained for some lovely people over the years who have also become very good friends.”


Derby ambitions for Opawa Jack

Foxton-based trainer Chrissy Bambry has her sights set on the New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) with Opawa Jack (War Decree), after he scored a second victory in the Wairarapa Cup (2050m) on Monday. The three-year-old son of War Decree (War Front) finished well under jockey Warren Kennedy to beat Amathusia by a nose in the Rating 75 contest. “He’s a horse that I obviously rate,” Bambry said. “He’s still very much a big baby and still got a lot to learn – Warren said he was still switching on and off but he fought well to the line and he’s improving each time. I’m just waiting until the penny drops with him because when it does, he could be a very smart horse. Whether he’ll have his ringcraft refined enough for the Derby will be a question mark, but we plan to give him a go.”


Hyspec to make return

The Kelvin and Aimee Tyler-trained Hyspec (Proisir) will make her long-awaited comeback to racing following a long spell on the sidelines due to injury. Now a four-year-old, the daughter of Proisir (Choisir) has been off for the last 15 months following a win at Cromwell in November 15, her first win in four starts, and will line-up in tomorrow’s 1200-metre handicap at Ascot Park. “She got cellulitis last year and had a blow out in her back leg and it was quite horrendous, the back tendon even ruptured,” Kelvin Tyler said. “It has healed up fine, we gave her a long spell and a long build-up. I got her scanned last week and she is 100 per cent. She hasn’t raced for 15 months and it would have been nice to give her a good jumpout, but the fields were light on numbers so I thought I would give her a run. She will only improve off the run, but she is still forward enough. She is an aboveaverage horse. Thursday is a bit of a starting point for her.”