Cambridge will have a strong showing at the rich Harness Jewels meeting at Addington on Saturday, with seven representatives from four stables.
Trainer Arna Donnelly leads the way with three runners and that could have been four, with Liberal Arden having qualified for the Gr.1 4YO Emerald (1980m), but his connections opted to target him towards a series closer to home.
“It’s really awesome (to have three runners),” Donnelly said. “We could have had four, but Liberal Arden is probably better off staying home, he’s leading the Cambridge Horse of the Year at the moment, so we opted to keep him home to try and win that.”
Donnelly will have a strong representation in the opening race on the card, with Baquero and In The Shadows contesting the Gr.1 4YO Diamond (1980m).
Baquero timed her Jewels run to perfection after her last start victory catapulted her into the 4YO Diamond field where she will start from the ace barrier on Saturday.
“We weren’t even thinking Jewels ten days ago with her, so it was really nice to see her back in winning form and back to her best, because on her day she is a pretty good horse,” Donnelly said.
“I think one will be quite a good draw for Baquero. Even though she can do things a bit wrong I think she’s a lot more happier left-handed and she left the gate well a couple of starts back at Cambridge, so I’m happy with one.”
In The Shadows, who grabbed the last spot in the field, will start alongside her stablemate after drawing barrier two and Donnelly was delighted with that gate.
“It was getting down to the wire there towards the end to make her safe in the top 12, but she made it and I think she deserves her chance to be there,” Donnelly said.
“Two is a good draw. It puts her straight in the running line, she doesn’t have a great deal of gate speed and that gives her a few options as to where she goes from there.
“She’s been ultra-consistent all season and I’m sure she will give a good account of herself.”
Both mares were due to fly out of Auckland on Sunday morning, however, fog has resulted in a travel delay for the pair. But that poses no concern for Donnelly, who expects a good showing from both mares on Saturday.
“The flight has been delayed, so hopefully they will arrive on Tuesday morning,” she said. “They are both thriving, they look a picture and they seem really well.
“Everything has gone according to plan, other than the flight, and that’s not a major because it doesn’t take that long to get down here when you are flying them.
“I think they are both top five chances.”
Donnelly could potentially bookend the card, with last-start Listed Sires’ Stakes Sophmore Classic (1980m) runner-up Double Rocket competing in the Gr.1 3YO Emerald (1980m).
The son of American Ideal has impressed his connections with his performances this season, which included a fifth-placing in the Gr.1 New Zealand Pacing Derby (2600m) at Addington last month.
“I was really happy with his run down here the other week in the Sophmore Classic,” Donnelly said. “He hadn’t raced for about six weeks, but had a couple of good trials.
“In the Derby, the track was a bit off and he had to do a bit of work early that night. He never really goes a bad one.”
Double Rocket has drawn barrier three and Donnelly said he will be able to utilise his gate speed from there.
“He’s got some high gait speed, so I couldn’t be happier with his draw,” she said.
“I am really happy with the horse. He’s really settled in well down here, nothing fazes him, and his work has been first-class.”
Donnelly won’t be the only trainer representing Cambridge on Saturday, with Mike Berger, Ross Paynter and Nicky Chilcott all having runners on Jewels Day.
Berger will line-up Eagle Watch in the Gr.1 2YO Emerald (1980m) and About Turn in the 3YO Emerald, while the Paynter-trained Majestic Sunrise will compete in the Gr.1 2YO Ruby (1980m) and Chilcott will start Phoebe Imperial in the Gr.1 4YO Ruby (1980m). – Cambridge Raceway