It was “in the back of my mind anyway” Mark said on missing the Messenger with Taylor Mile winner, Akuta, and it wasn’t hard to firm on that decision after his superb performance to down stablemate Self Assured by a nose last Friday.

” I summed it up that it had been a tough race in the Taylor Mile and he’s only four and had some hard races.The Taylor was run in fast time for the conditions and he has plenty coming up.The Grins had been a hard race and I thought he might have to miss the Taylor but he bounced back quickly so we decided to carry on. This week it was 2700m too. He’s done a great job and we want to  look after the horse”

Mark produced a great drive from back in the field in the Taylor but admitted it “had been a gamble” when he followed the Australian Bettor Eclipse down the back straight.

“When he pulled out I was briefly in two minds.Sometimes when you follow a horse 3 wide in  that part of the race  at the Park you can be caught very wide on the last bend but I decided it was worth the risk”

It was Mark’s 7th training success in the former four year old feature now open to all comers.

Akuta’s bounce back from a possible setback was mirrored by Wild Willow at Ashburton on Monday as the big horse,at  least partly thanks to a canny drive from Natalie, resumed for the season on a winning note.

He was supposed to do that at Addington recently but had to be withdrawn.

“Nathan said it was  strange thing. He went out to work during the week but didn’t feel quite right even though nothing obviously wrong and he went straight back to the barn. It was enough to scratch from Addington but he also bounced back quickly. He is a big horse and time will help him further”

It was the stable’s 6th winner for the weekend making for a fast climb up the Premiership table.

Akuta is no pony either and his race cart is well back in its setting.

“He can hit the wheels if the cart is too close up so I am sitting further back than with some of the team”

Oscar Bonavena, Mon Lancome and Michael’s charge Mystic Max are also engaged on Friday.

“Oscar Bonavena worked well this morning (Monday). Nathan came up with a plan to for his schedule that has produced good results so I am following that. He seems very well”

Mon Lancome and Mystic Max both have tricky draws, as indeed does Self Assured from a tactical viewpoint though in a 2700m race it is not so critical. Mon Lancome who went around behind Millwood Nike in 2 horse non tote qualifying event last week was nominate for a race restricted to her own sex but the race did not get off the ground.

“Michael is up here with Max and it will be interesting to see how he goes with other races coming up” Mark said.

Meanwhile Nathan said Dare Devil may be the only stable runner at Addington this week with two others including With Style who has returned south and possibly Ok Boomer (options open) at Rangiora on Sunday.

PIC: Mystic Max looks to add to his winning run at Alexandra Park on Friday



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