Kozzi Asano is aiming to add another first to his breakout season this weekend.
The Canterbury-based Japanese apprentice had only ridden eight winners in his career to the start of this season but since August 1, he has saluted the judge 30 times to sit in joint second place on the jockeys’ premiership alongside three-time champion Lisa Allpress, just three wins behind another former champion Sam Collett on 33.
But still missing from Asano’s resume is a stakes win and he is aiming to remedy that when he reunites with this year’s Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) winner Sentimental Miss in Saturday’s Listed Steelform Roofing Group Wanganui Cup (2040m).
“That would be great. Any stakes win would be great but my aim for this season is to ride lots of winners,” Asano said.
Asano, 24, has set his sights on 70 wins for the season and with a full book of nine rides at Cromwell on Sunday and five rides at Wanganui on Saturday, it’s clear he’s got a good base support from trainers.
“I never expected the start to the year I’ve had. I’ve been helped by a lot of good trainers and owners and there have been many good horses too,” he said.
Having ridden the Lisa Latta-trained Sentimental Miss to a fourth placing at Awapuni earlier this month, he is confident the Reliable Man four-year-old mare can make her presence felt in the Wanganui Cup.
“She finished it off strongly at Awapuni. She had a nice draw and the instructions were to use the barrier a bit,” Asano said.
“She settled well and travelled really nicely. More ground at Wanganui will be helpful too.”
Sentimental Miss will also be looking to continue a memorable winning run for syndicators Go Racing, whose tally of wins for November hit 10 on Wednesday with Prince Albert and Might winning at Rotorua and Remuera scoring at the Gold Coast.
“The team is going really well and the owners are loving it,” Go Racing’s Matt Allnut said.
Sentimental Miss’ Wanganui Cup run will likely be her last for the preparation before returning for an autumn campaign.
“Lisa thinks she’s bang on or this one, though it’s a question mark about how she handles a really firm track,” Allnut said.
Allnut was delighted to give Asano his chance in the feature.
“I’ve had a bit to do with Kozzi as we work closely with his boss Andrew Carston and he’s a really talented rider with a great work ethic,” Allnut said.
“He talks really well to our owners and his results are testament to his talent. It just shows our faith in him when we’re happy to put him on a Group One mare in the Wanganui Cup.”
Asano will also ride the Go Racing-owned Rock Island Line at Wanganui, while the Go Racing silks will also be seen on Pullyoursocksup and Deels Done at Ellerslie on Saturday and Severine at Cromwell.
Asano rated the Latta-trained Platinum Wild Card as the pick of his other rides at Wanganui, while he was keen on the chances of Hee’s Our Secret and Sharp ‘N’ Silver at Cromwell. – NZ Racing Desk