Robson hoping to Light Up Riccarton again
Pam Robson is hoping for a lesser surprise but no lesser result when Light Up tackles Friday's Riccarton Park Function Centre 2100.
The Riccarton trainer produced Light Up for an epic boilover win on the final day of New Zealand Cup week on her home track last start, the Wandjina six-year-old gelding staving off his rivals under jockey Chris Johnson to pay $126 to win.
"I didn't back him but then again I never do back my own horses," Robson said.
"I did think he was at false odds, though I did wonder about whether the wide-sweeping contours of Riccarton might play against him being a horse who is better on the pace.
"But my former partner Ron McCann won a lot of races from the front at Riccarton because he was a superb judge of pace. He always said jockeys sit off the leaders at Riccarton because they think they'll come back to them and a lot of time they don’t.
"As it turned out the wide draw was no problem whatsoever and Chris kept him out of trouble, bowling along at his own pace and he was able to get the job done."
Robson will step Light Up past 1600m for the first time in his career on Friday in a Rating 75 of just five runners, with plans for Johnson to again dominate the race from the front.
"There are two other leaders in there but Chris will work out where he needs to be. The main thing is that he's in his own space. He's a bit of a quirky horse and he just doesn't like to be cluttered up," Robson said.
"He's come through that last race fine. You wouldn't have even known he'd had a race. He's a fit horse and quite a happy horse at the moment.
"After going a mile at Riccarton, and to all intents and purposes doing it the hard way, we thought we'd give him the chance to see if he can stretch it out a wee bit further."
While Robson would rather Friday's meeting be run on the turf, she takes confidence that Light Up is already a winner on Riccarton's all-weather track.
Robson said owners Brent Gardiner and Carolyn Burr had been considering retiring Light Up before his last-start win, which provided a double-edged boost as he has become easier to place higher up the Rating 75 band.
"If he can't see out the 2100m, it won't be a massive shock but if he can, he'll become a lot easier to place, so this is a good fact-finding mission. If he doesn't run in the first three though, I'd be disappointed," Robson said.
"After this we'd like to look at the (ODT) Southern Mile Series and there's a $40,000 qualifier at Wingatui on Boxing Day and that might fit in well."