Nathan has one worry over AKUTA  in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday and it is not that stable horsewoman Olivia Thornley is driving him. She has been entrusted with several of the stable’s best horses in recent times.

It is the fact she is driving him for the first time.

“Akuta is one horse in the stable Liv has not had a lot to do with in his work” Nathan said.

Natalie was scheduled to take the drive after Mark was suspended for the second time recently for his whip action at Addington,but she had to withdraw after driver notification leaving Olivia last cab off the rank and at short notice. Tony Herlihy takes the drive on Self Assured

“It is not a major worry because he is not a hard horse to drive. But you get to a standing start in a big race and the little things that knowing the horse well help you can make a difference We have complete confidence in Liv but it just makes it a little harder for her not knowing the horse as well”

Other factors in the race are easier for him.

“Akuta is still the pick of our two.He seems to have gone to another level this time in and he has an edge over Self Assured at the moment”

Its comparisons most of the day for Nathan with multiple entries in most races.

It’s an easy one for MILLWOOD NIKE one Olivia does know well having not only driven  her to her initial victory at Timaru which have been followed by 14 more,but Olivia has a special relationship with the filly

“No worries for her.She’s doing well and it is hard to see her going under as far as you can predict”

In spite of the draw however he sticks with TREACHEROUS BABY over the consistently smare MADRID.

“I wouldn’t say there is lot between them at this stage but we have always liked Treacherous Baby because we felt she she had more to offer in potential.Even though things look tough for her on paper I would lean her way”

Same in the Sires Stakes where VESSEM is seeking a return to the winning list.The stable has three runners but he is top of the list for Nathan.

“I don’t think anyone who watched him last start would have thought any less of him for the defeat. He is clearly the best of ours and I am confident he will be hard to beat from there”

WE WALK BY FAITH,still in a learning curve, and MAJOR HOT,the drives of Devon and Olivia respectively are the stable’s other runners but most interest will be on Cold Chisel from the stable of the northern arm of the Purdon family.

“We have an advantage of the draw. From what I have seen of Cold Chisel you obviously has to respect the form but I still think Vessem is the one to beat”

Nathan notes that CARRERA RAPIDO has to step up in grade in the Sophomore Classic and it won’t be easy.

“He has definitely stepped up this time in and he got it done for Blair last time with a bit in his favour. I don’t think its beyond him to win again but it will be harder”

And can Olivia and OSCAR BONAVENA  master Muscle Mountain again ?

“Oscar got another life. Just looking at Muscle Mountain the other night I feel that if Oscar got within a few lengths of him over the closing stages he could outsprint him again. It will be an interesting race”

In other stable news the Australian team except for HIGH STEP who ran second at Melton on Friday are headed home.

“They are either here or on their way. Sherlock’s disappointment in the Victorian Derby was another piece of ill timing for the unlucky three year old who was sidelined on the day of the VicBred final.He was leading the Derby field with authority when he faltered at the home turn and dropped out.

“It was tough for him. There was a suggestion of a fibrillation but soon after the race he was good as gold.He just  hasn’t had the luck over there”


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