Matthew White is looking to secure his first New Zealand training win at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday night when he lines-up a quartet of runners with training partner Mike Berger.
White entered into a partnership with the veteran trainer at the start of the season, and with five placings from 15 starts the pair have made a pleasing start to the term despite a winning result eluding their grasp.
“I have been enjoying being back training,” White said. “It has been busy, but it’s good to get back out there and I will be looking to get that monkey off the back, we haven’t got a winner yet.
“But we have a couple of good chances on Thursday.”
One of those chances is Group One performer Eagle Watch who will be having his first hit-out as a three-year-old in the McMillan Equine Feeds Sires’ Stakes Series (Heat 1) Mobile Pace (1700m).
The son of He’s Watching, who was co-bred and is part-owned by Berger, was a handy juvenile, running third in the Gr.1 Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m) and his trainers have been pleased with the way he has returned.
“He went some quite handy races (as a juvenile),” White said. “He is a nice horse, he will end up doing a good job.
“He went well in his workout here on Saturday, which was quite pleasing.
“He has come through that pretty well. He comes up with a good draw (gate two) on Thursday, but I think whatever he does he will probably improve on.”
Berger and White have the Gr.1 McMillan Equine Feeds Sires’ Stakes Final (1980m) at Addington on November 12 in their sights with the colt.
“The target is the Sires’ Stakes if we can qualify for it,” White said. “There’s another heat at Auckland, but we will know a bit more after Thursday anyway.”
The Cambridge training partnership will also line-up consistent gelding All Yours on their home track.
The son of Art Major has strung together a series of placings since winning in July and his connections are hoping he can get back to his winning ways in the PGG Wrightson Standardbred Mobile Pace (2700m).
“He was a touch disappointing last start (when finishing third at Alexandra Park), but we just found a couple of wee things with him,” White said.
“He had a bit of bruising in a foot, so we rectified that and he seems right to go. He should be thereabouts in that race.”
White is also expecting a good showing from Spirit of Anzac when he backs up in the Russell Curtin Memorial Mobile Pace (2200m) after finishing third at Alexandra Park last Friday.
“Spirit of Anzac, he has been racing well. He got home really good last start,” White said.
“He has drawn two on the second row, so if he can get a good run through and get the right trip I think he could be thereabouts. Barry Purdon’s horse (Mohs Em down) should be hard to beat, but our guy is racing well enough.”
Mhai Uptown Girl rounds out the quartet of stable representatives on Thursday night and White is hoping barrier one and a return to her home track will assist the out of form mare.
“She comes up with a decent draw,” he said. “She hasn’t had one in a while and it could be the right sort of field for her, she has been racing in better fields.
“She hasn’t raced in three weeks and her work has been good at home, so if she is up on the speed without doing too much work early, she should be right in it.”
White will be piloting Eagle Watch and Mhai Uptown Girl, while local junior driver Luke Whittaker will drive All Yours and Spirit Of Anzac.
White has also picked up two outside drives on the eight race card, including the Roger Villiger-trained Presidential Jewel and 12-year-old warhorse Charlemagne.
“Presidential Jewel is a nice up and coming trotter,” White said. “It won’t be long until she is breaking maidens. If she does everything right on Thursday night, she will be hard to beat.
“Charlegmane is mixing his form. He is down in grade a bit from racing at Auckland. He might bob up one of these days with the right run.” – Cambridge Raceway