Graeme Rogerson is setting Sharp ‘N’ Smart the task of joining an exclusive four-horse club.
Since the inaugural Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) in 1978, only four horses have completed the Spring Champion Stakes-VRC Derby double: Stylish Century (1989), Nothin’ Leica Dane (1995), Monaco Consul (2009), and Ace High (2017).
The list of notable horses that failed to complete it is longer - Kingston Town, Beau Zam, Danewin, Tie the Knot, Dundeel, and Rogerson’s own outstanding three-year-old Savabeel.
In addition, for the first time there is just a seven-day gap between the races, making it a test of constitution as well as ability. But Rogerson, who trains at Tuhikaramea on the outskirts of Hamilton, said his charge is up to winning the A$2 million feature.
“He backed up a week later in New Zealand at his second start when he won the Champagne Stakes (Listed, 1600m), and he backed up two weeks in a row when he raced in Brisbane,” Rogerson said.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who fought strongly to win the Gr.2 Gloaming Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on October 12, was the $4.50 second favourite for the Spring Champion on Monday behind Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) runner-up Elliptical ($3.50), and Rogerson said he was ready for a big effort.
“I’m very happy with him,” he said. “A better track would suit him better, but what will be will be.
“He’s going to work a mile in the morning (Tuesday) on the grass at Randwick and that will have him ready to go on Saturday.”
Hugh Bowman, who has ridden Sharp ‘N’ Smart in all his Australian starts, will stay in Sydney on Saturday rather than head to Melbourne for Cox Plate day and sticks with the son of Redwood.
“It is going to be a good race. I see they are looking at backing up Renaissance Woman who won the Ethereal Stakes (Gr.3, 2000m) and the Guineas runner-up will be hard to beat, but we are happy with our horse,” Rogerson said.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart won’t be the only Rogerson horse with an important spring target to race on Saturday as he also plans to back up his promising stayer Brookbourne in an open 2400m handicap at Te Rapa.
Brookbourne has improved with age and distance, and he put up an outstanding effort in the Bay Ford Punter of the Year Premier (2200m) at Hastings last Saturday, dashing away in the straight for a 9-1/4 length victory over Rating 65 rivals.
His ultimate target is the Gr.3 Martin Collins New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton on November 12.
“We expected him to win – he was unlucky not to win the week before at Matamata,” Rogerson said.
“I think he has the making of a really handy staying horse, and if all goes well at Te Rapa he’ll then go to Christchurch. He’ll run in the 2500m on the first day (in the Listed Nautical Boat Insurance Metropolitan Trophy) and then the Cup on the last day.”
Also set to run at Te Rapa is Drum Major, who was impressive when winning first-up at Te Rapa in a Rating 65 1300m event on September 30.
“He’ll run in the Rating 75 1300m, and we’ll look to take him through the grades at this point,” Rogerson said.
Other contenders from Team Rogerson set to run at Te Rapa include More Wonder, who begins his campaign in the open 1400m sprint, and Hanalei Star, who contests the 1000m two-year-old race.
Prior to that, Rogerson will take a team to Tauranga on Wednesday, where he thinks his best chances are the first-starter Yari in a 1200m maiden and Logan’s Logic in a Rating 60 2100m event.
“I think Yari’s a very good horse. He’s won two barrier trials and I think he’s got a good future,” he said.
“Logan’s Logic should also go well. He had a stone bruise but he’s over that and he’ll also go to Christchurch after that. He’s also got a nomination for the New Zealand Cup but we’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Rogerson confirmed that last season’s stable star Mascarpone, winner of the Gr.1 Otaki-Maori Weight-For-Age (1600m), won’t be seen this season after injuring himself in an exhibition gallop.
“He looks good but he’s going to have 12 months off.” – NZ Racing Desk