Stakes winner Exuberant will step out at Riccarton on Friday.
The Stephen Marsh-trained gelding will tackle the JL Barr Memorial 1200, dropping in grade and getting a prime opportunity to return to the winner’s stall for the first time since he won the Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m) at Trentham on debut as a two-year-old.
While he did run third in the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie later that season and second to Catalyst in the Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka at three, a breathing issue has prevented Exuberant from reaching the heights he promised as a youngster.
“That hasn’t made it easy for him,” Marsh said.
“He did look like a very progressive colt when he won the Wellesley. He went a good race in the (Karaka) Million and then ran second to Catalyst but he hasn’t fulfilled his potential.
“He does get his opportunity this week though. We tried stepping him up to 1400m last start and while his run wasn’t bad, he just didn’t see it out. He’s drawn out but he’ll jump and hope to lead them throughout.
“He’s got the side winkers on and back in Rating 65 grade and he’s been working well so he’s got to be a chance.” -NZ Racing Desk