Group One performer Eagle Watch will make his raceday return in the Grass Track Meeting @ Rotorua Jan 26th Mobile Pace (2200m) at Cambridge Raceway on Sunday.
The son of He’s Watching had a solid juvenile season, placing in the Gr.1 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m) at Alexandra Park and went on to record a win and further three placings.
The Matthew White and Mike Berger-trained three-year-old hasn’t been sighted on raceday since the Harness Jewels in June after a virus delayed his resumption in spring.
“He was ready to go in October, but he got a bit of a virus. We just backed off him and brought him up again,” White said.
“He seems well and has been working well. He has just had the one workout (finishing runner-up at Cambridge last month), so he should improve off what he does on Sunday.”
A path has yet to be mapped out for Eagle Watch, however, his connections are hoping he can make a convincing start to his three-year-old campaign on Sunday.
“We will just take it as it comes. There are no set plans, we will just race him through,” White said.
“He has come up with a nice draw (4) and I think he is our best chance on Sunday.”
Eagle Watch is one of six runners for Double M Stables on Sunday and White said their other contenders are also strong chances in their respective contests.
Carse O Fern Tom will head into the Printech Mobile Pace (2200m) off the back of a third-placing first-up at Cambridge on Christmas Eve.
“It was a nice enough run first-up,” White said. “He would need to improve a bit off that, but his work has been good since then and he comes up with a good draw (1) as well, so hopefully he is in there at the finish.”
Spirit Of Anzac is another runner who heads into Sunday in good form. He has strung together a series of placings and White is hoping he can breakthrough for an elusive win in the Downbytheseaside Junior Drivers Mobile Pace (1700m).
“It was a good run last start, he just had to be driven against his pattern and be put into the race mid-race,” White said. “He stuck on pretty well really. It’s an even field on Sunday, hopefully there is a bit of speed on, which it looks like there probably will be.
“If he can get a nice enough run he should be running on at the finish, but it will just depend on how the race is run from the draw (7).
“He is racing well and will go his usual honest race I am sure.”
Cool and Calculating takes two placings into the Hanley Formula Mobile Pace (2200m), but White believes Sunday will be a tougher assignment for the mare from gate six.
“She has gone well the last couple and she seems pretty well going into this,” he said. “She is drawn out a little bit. Her last couple of starts she has drawn well and has just followed the rail, so she is probably going to have to do a bit more work to get into it on Sunday.
“She has been racing in similar fields and she is going well enough. With the right run she should be thereabouts.”
Mach Little Soaky will tackle the Friday Night Ladies Night Feb 21 Mobile Pace (2200m) first-up on Sunday and White is expecting plenty of improvement from the run.
“He’s a funny horse who always seems to have a few interruptions, but he seems well. He is carrying a bit of extra condition so he will tidy up with the run,” White said.
“He will be better for the run. He is drawn well (2), so hopefully he can get a nice trip and if he can get some of it that would be good.”
About Turn will contest the same race and White said his formline is a bit deceiving.
“His form is better than it looks on paper. He was going to finish closer than what he did last start, but he just got a bit off balance at the top of the straight and put in a few rough ones, which cost him a bit of ground.
“He is a quality horse, he just lacks that real high speed, but the harder they go the more he likes it.
“It will depend on how the race is run with him, but he is well enough going into it.”
White will also have a busy day in the sulky. As well as driving four of his own team he has picked up two outside drives behind Presidential Jewel in the Dunstan Horsefeeds Trot (2700m) and Aoraki in the IRT Your Horse Our Passion Handicap Trot (2700m).
“Presidential Jewel gets into that race pretty well,” White said. “It was a good run last start, she just galloped going into the first corner, which probably cost her in the end.
“She is generally pretty good manners-wise, so I think she will be a big show on Sunday.
“Aoraki is a bit hit and miss. Her form is a bit in and out, so hopefully she is on on Sunday.”
Earlier in the day White and Berger will attempt to qualify Optical Illusion and the pair are excited by his prospects.
“We have got a three-year-old that I quite like called Optical Illusion,” White said. “He will go around in a qualifying trial on Sunday. We quite like what his is doing at home, so hopefully he can take it to the races.”
The Cambridge conditioners are nearly halfway through their first season in partnership and White said he is enjoying training alongside the multiple Group One-winning horseman.
“I’m really enjoying training alongside Mike, he’s a great guy. I am learning a lot off him and it is great to be able to have someone as experienced and successful as he is right there every day.” – Cambridge Raceway