An imperious run of form from Clever Ruds has propelled the daughter of El Roca into a possible tilt at one of the country’s most prestigious 1600 metre contests.
The Debbie Sweeney-trained four-year-old completed a hat-trick of victories when she was successful at Te Rapa on Saturday to put her into contention for the Group 3 Easter Handicap at Pukekohe.
It was also a rewarding weekend for El Roca’s associate Westbury Stud stallion Redwood, who was represented by a winning trans-Tasman double through the deeds of sons St Lawrence and Reggiewood.
Not to be outdone, Reliable Man chipped in on Easter Monday when his gallant daughter Wannabe ‘N’ Paris led all the way over 2147 metres for veteran rider Chris Johnson to claim top honours in the Listed Riverton Cup.
Trained by Paul Harris, the mare took her sire’s tally of individual Southern Hemisphere black type winners to 10 and a haul headed by Group 1 winners Inspirational Girl, Miami Bound and Miss Sentimental.
Clever Rud’s connections will now assess her condition in the next couple of days before they make a decision on the quick back-up this weekend.
“She has been thriving between her races and we’re thinking we may have a crack at the Easter and probably turn her out after that,” Sweeney said.
“I’m just not sure at the moment and we’ll see how she does and throw a nomination in. At this stage, she has come through her last run really well.”
Clever Ruds opened her career last season with consecutive successes at Cambridge and has been patiently handled to allow her to strengthen.
“She has always showed a bit of promise and won her first couple of trials and then won on the synthetic track,” Sweeney said.
“She has needed time to mature and I think she will be even better next campaign.”
Clever Ruds’ recent run of form kicked off at Pukekohe over 1400 metres last month before she stepped up to 1600 metres to win at Tauranga and Te Rapa.
She made all the play out in front on each occasion, but she’s no one trick pony in that regard,
“She can take a sit and has come from behind before. Lately, she has just jumped so well and put herself right there, but she can be ridden anywhere,” Sweeney said.
“She has been pretty amazing this time in. She has just appreciated a little bit more time, she was a bit weak and she has developed into a very nice mare now.”
A granddaughter of Group 1 Railway Handicap winner Ardee One, Clever Ruds was bred by Steve Liddington and John Tarrant, who remain in the ownership group.
She is a daughter of the Falkirk mare Madam Kirk, who has a 100 per cent record at stud with all three of her foals to race having been successful. She made a return visit last season to El Roca.
Meanwhile, the Gerry Harvey-bred and raced St Lawrence turned in a commanding performance to win on debut over 1400 metres at Hastings while Reggiewood was a runaway victor at Eagle Farm.
Cambridge co-trainer Murray Baker rates St Lawrence highly and expects to see the best of him as he gets out in trip on better surfaces.
“He had won a couple of trials on the synthetic here at home before Saturday, so we were hoping for a good run from him,” he said.
“He is going to need ground to show his best, the same as Marroni does and I think he will be a pretty handy type once he strengthens up.”
St Lawrence is a half-brother to stablemate and G3 Manawatu Cup winner Marroni, a son of Makfi who finished third in the G3 Neville Sellwood Stakes in his Australian debut. He struggled in the testing conditions at Randwick when unplaced in Saturday’s G3 JRA Plate.
Reggiewood won two of his five starts and ran sixth in the G1 New Zealand Derby under the guidance of trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood.
He was subsequently sold to Hong Kong interests, but failed to find any form from Kenny Lui’s stable before joining the Sydney operation of Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou.
The five-year-old won in his second appearance from his new quarters ahead of a break and a subsequent placing earned him a trip to Queensland in search of improved underfoot conditions.
Reggiewood repaid the faith at Eagle Farm on Saturday when he strolled home by 3.25l over 1815 metres and Ryan said the G3 Tatt’s Cup and the Listed Ipswich Cup were future targets.