Wheeler eyes Guineas for Irish Flame
Taranaki trainer John Wheeler is looking forward to a rematch with the main protagonists from the Listed El Roca-Sir Colin Meads Trophy with his capable three-year-old Irish Flame.
The showy Zed gelding caught the eye at Hastings last time out when he flashed home late to finish a somewhat unlucky third behind Bostonian and I Got You in a grandstand finish to the event.
Photo: Troy Leggett (Race Images Palmerston North)
A Gr. 3 Phoenix Park Classic winner in his two-year-old campaign, Irish Flame was having his first run in a preparation that has Wheeler eyeing a tilt at the Gr. 1 Al Basti Equiworld 2000 Guineas later in the year.
“We thought he would go well on Saturday, even though it was a quality line-up for the first real three-year-old feature of the season,” Wheeler said.
“I was happy going into the race and when he loomed up halfway down the straight I started to get a little excited.
“He may have just come to the end of it in the last few strides, but I put that down to the work he had to do to get himself into contention as he was a fair way off them when they turned for home.
“All in all, it was a top run and will clean him up nicely for what lies ahead.”
The immediate target is the Gr. 2 Sacred Falls Hawke’s Bay Guineas on 7 October, a race where Irish Flame is likely to meet a similar field to last weekend.
“He will go back to Hastings for the Guineas without another run,” Wheeler said.
“He’s most likely going to meet a number of the same runners and after Saturday’s effort he definitely looks like he can compete with them. That augurs well for his future as he is still quite immature, both mentally and physically, and I don’t think we will see the very best of him for another eighteen months.
“His longer-term aim for this campaign is the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton so that is where we will be heading once we get through the Hastings run.” – NZ Racing Desk.