Rhaegar winning the Listed Auckland Futurity Stakes (1400m) as a juvenile.  Photo: Trish Dunell

Rhaegar enjoying life in the deep south

Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
21 November 2023

Barry Howden has had a number of stakes winners in his barn over his 35-year training career and he is excited to have another in his care in Rhaegar.

Formerly trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Rhaegar won the Listed Auckland Futurity Stakes (1400m) as a juvenile and went on to win a further two races for the Cambridge trainers before he was offered on gavelhouse.com last year where Howden secured the now seven-year-old for $5,500.

“I watched him race early on and I liked the way he moved,” Howden said.

“He is nice to do anything with, he is a pleasure to have around.”

Rhaegar subsequently had three unplaced runs for the Makarewa horseman before undergoing a wind operation. Howden couldn’t be more pleased with the way he has progressed, with the gelding returning to winning form last month at Gore over 1335m.

“He got through that race as good as gold. I am really pleased with him,” Howden said.

“We had a wind operation done on him, which seems to be making a big difference. He is way happier now.”

The son of Pluck is set to drop back to 1200m on Wednesday when he lines-up in the Christmas At The Races Sat 16 Dec Handicap, and while Howden said the distance is below his best, he is expecting another bold showing.

“I still think 1400m is a better distance for him than 1200m, but I expect him to go well,” he said. “We may look at going to Cromwell after that if he pulls up well.”

Howden will also line-up Willis first-up in the Vale Graham Tippett Handicap (1200m).

“He is working well so here’s hoping he goes well,” Howden said. “He won first-up last year. He has got a lot of ability but he is a bit erratic sometimes, which is his biggest trouble.”

The two geldings make up Howden’s entire race team and he enjoys keeping his hand in the game following a 35-year career which has garnered 79 wins, including three at stakes level.

“I started off giving the Ridleys a hand back in the day and progressed from there. I was also an amateur rider,” he said.

“I have had some handy horses. They are pretty hard to get those nice ones, so it’s nice to have another in the stable.”

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