New Zealand Derby contender The Hassler is peaking at the right time.
The Hassler boosted the confidence levels in his camp when he galloped at Cambridge on Tuesday morning.
“I thought his work was very solid,” trainer Roger James said. “It was nice staying work and he’s going to be cherry ripe for Saturday.”
Raceday rider Michael Coleman came over from Matamata to partner The Hassler. “He [Coleman] went home pretty chuffed,” James added.
The Hassler was at $16 for the BMW Derby on Tuesday morning, but will be a genuine chance with luck in the running.
He has won two races at 2100m and produced an encouraging Derby trial when fifth in the Avondale Guineas. He settled back in the Guineas but kept coming in the straight after improving wide.
“I thought his run had a lot of merit,” James said. “He improved at the 900m and was wide from there.
“It was also Michael’s first ride on the horse and I’m pleased he has had a ride on him before the Derby.”
Vinnie Colgan rode The Hassler in his two wins but is sticking with the favourite Rangipo on Saturday.
The Hassler, a $56,000 yearling buy from the festival session at Karaka, is by Melbourne Cup winner Shocking and from a Zabeel mare. “I’ve got no worries about him getting the trip [2400m],” James said.
“He doesn’t have to get back and a good draw would be a big help.”
Both James and Coleman have good Derby records, with James winning the race five times and Coleman twice.
James’ other runners at Ellerslie on Saturday will include Cool Tart (Sunline Vase), Miss Foxwood (Darley Plate) and Zastella (rating 65 2100m) while Amazing Lady tackles the Gr.3 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes at Hastings on Wednesday.
- NZ Racing Desk | Pic Trish Dunell