Iffraaj mare Elfee is heading into Saturday’s Christchurch Casino Open Handicap (1600m) at Riccarton in good form, having run in the money on all but one occasion this preparation.
Her trainer Michael Pitman, who prepares the seven-year-old mare with son Matthew, said punters can discount that run in the Gr.3 Winter Cup (1600m) two starts back where she finished tenth, and believes his mare is a solid chance in Saturday’s feature.
“In the Winter Cup, the track bias fully favoured those horses racing on the speed,” Pitman said. “She went a really good race in the Winter Cup considering and she closed quite well in the last 100m.
“She got beaten by two really good horses at her last start (Dez and Platinum Command) in the Winter Classic and it looks a nice race for her. With Nashville in the race it sort of pushes the weights down for her.”
The Oamaru Cup (1600m) winner will carry 57.5kg with Chris Johnson aboard and has drawn barrier five in the six horse field, which poses no concern for Pitman.
“Her barrier won’t bother her, Chris (Johnson, jockey) will find a slot somewhere. She’s better off just sitting back a fraction anyway.”
Elfee ran second in the Gr.3 South Island Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) earlier this year and Pitman is hoping she can go one better in October where she is set to start in the Listed Christchurch Casino Spring Classic (2000m) at Riccarton.
“We are very happy with her. We are attempting to get her ready for a 2000m listed race,” he said. “She’ll head to an 1800m race after Saturday and then she’ll go into the Listed race at Riccarton at the end of October.”
Meanwhile, earlier on the card at Riccarton, Pitman holds a strong hand in the Gavelhouse.com Open Handicap (1000m) where he will line-up three runners – Morse Code, Dynamic and Saber.
Pitman is happy with all three runners heading into Saturday, but rates Saber as the stable’s best chance in the heavy track conditions.
“All three are good chances,” Pitman said.
“Morse Code has come up really good. We only had a couple of runs with her last prep where she won first-up for us over 1000m.
“Her work has been really good and she looks great. She’s actually a lot more settled this time in. There has to be a bit of a query about the track conditions, that’s the only thing.
“Saber has gone some really good races at Riccarton, he loves it wet, he’s probably the best chance of my three.”