A trio of representatives from a family that has served Westbury Stud so well for more than two decades promise to add to the roll of honour over the Easter holiday period.
Karaka farm graduates Marroni and his half-brother St Lawrence will be in action on both sides of the Tasman on Saturday while Group 2 winner The Inferno will step out at Caulfield on Good Friday.
The former pair are grandsons of stud principal Gerry Harvey’s dual Group 1 winner Lotteria, whose six foals to race have all been successful, and she is a three-quarter sister to The Inferno’s dam Spina Rosa.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Marroni won the Group 3 Manawatu Cup prior to Christmas and, following an unplaced resuming run at Ellerslie, finished third in his Australian debut in the G3 Neville Sellwood Stakes.
The winner Mount Popa subsequently ran third in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes so Marroni’s effort draws serious attention to his prospects in Saturday’s G3 JRA Plate at Randwick.
“We were rapt with his run, he needed it and just came to the end of it. It was a super effort on a pretty testing track and it will be wet again on Saturday and he has improved a lot,” Forsman said.
“It’s another good and even field, but he’s certainly not out of it and we think he will be right there,” Forsman said.
He is a son of Makfi and the unraced Encosta De Lago mare Bacio Del Vinto, and was sold by Westbury for $90,000 at Karaka while Harvey retained his half-brother by Redwood.
Named St Lawrence, the three-year-old will make his debut at Hastings on Saturday for Baker and Forsman off the back of consecutive trial successes. He will be partnered by apprentice Elen Nicholas.
“He has showed a bit at the trials, albeit on the Polytrack and it’s a bit hard to weigh up,” Forsman said.
“He’s never had a trip away from home and it will be a good experience, but he has showed a good bit of toe out of the gates so hopefully he can jump and use the claim.”
The Inferno will run in Friday’s A$500,000 The Country Discovery at Sale and continues to be a fine servant for Cliff Brown with multiple black type wins during his time in Singapore and notable success in Australia since the trainer returned to set up base at Mornington.
The Holy Roman Emperor five-year-old, a $140,000 Karaka buy, won the Group 2 McEwen Stakes in the spring and finished runner-up in the G1 Moir Stakes. He was subsequently undone by a wet track in The Everest and all but fell in the G1 Lightning.
Brown said The Inferno had trialled well last week and his only concern is the sprinter’s lack of recent match fitness.
He will make a call on possible tilts at the G1 The Goodwood in Adelaide and the G1 Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane after Friday’s outing.
Also in Australia, the Westbury stallion roster will be represented in stakes event by The Cunning Fox at Caulfield and Esta La Roca at Doomben.
A son of Reliable Man, the Patrick Payne-prepared The Cunning Fox will attempt to add the Listed Galilee Series Final over 2400 metres to his burgeoning record.
He has won three of his six starts and last time out his staying qualities were evident when he landed top honours in the St Leger Trial over 2200 metres at Bendigo.
At the other end of the distance scale is El Roca’s homebred daughter Esta La Roca, who takes aim at the Listed Ascot Quality Handicap at Eagle Farm.
Lloyd Kennewell’s speedy mare will relish the 1000 metres as all six of her career wins have been posted over the distance.
She will have to be right on her game after drawing a wide barrier in her quest for a major stakes credit following three previous Listed placings.
On the domestic black-type front, Reliable Man’s daughter Wannabe ‘N’ Paris is an in-form contender for the Listed Riverton Cup contender.
The Paul Harris-trained mare made an early move last time out to go to the front 1800 metres from home and waltzed away to score by five and a-half lengths over 2200 metres at Ascot Park.