Ethereal’s son boost NZ Cup prospects
The well-related Imperium was on his best behaviour at Riccarton to open his spring campaign in perfect style.
Despite racing at a distance well short of his best, the son of the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup winner Ethereal got home strongly from the tail of the field to win the Phil & Corin Murfitt and Ray & Jill Coupland 1600.
|Imperium Photo: Race Images South|
“We were a bit surprised by that, although we were very pleased with his trial at Te Teko,” said Jamie Richards, who trains in partnership with Stephen Autridge. “He’s a nice staying horse and obviously he’s sprinted very well fresh.
“He’s pretty good when he’s got his mind on the job, we’re just not always sure when that is.”
Imperium’s main aim this preparation is the Gr.3 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup on November 18.
“He ran third in it last year so on his best form he’s a good chance again,” Richards said. “We’ll keep him a bit fresh and probably run in the Listed Spring Classic here on October 28 and then the Metropolitan before the Cup.”
Imperium loped along in last spot under rider Michael McNab before he improved wide near the turn and came with a sustained finish for the fourth win of his 20-start career.
By Encosta de Lago, the gelding was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis out of Pencarrow Stud’s draft to Karaka in 2013 for $425,000.
The stable also produced Age Of Fire to finish runner-up on debut behind Greenpark Gem in the Shearings, More than Moving Earth 3YO. A subsequent protest against the winner was dismissed.
“He needs the better tracks and as long as he was running home well we were going to be happy,” Richards said.
A son of Fastnet Rock and the Galileo mare Dragon’s Tail, Age Of Fire holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas. – NZ Racing Desk.