Atacama Set to Put Her Best Foot Forward

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie hopes he has solved the foot problems that plagued promising mare Atacama last season after his charge built on her imposing fresh record with a victory in good company at Hastings on the weekend.

Atacama wins fresh up at Hastings.
Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell.

The five-year-old daughter of Pentire produced a flashing home straight sprint to narrowly down last year’s Gr. 1 2000 Guineas runner-up Chambord over 1400 metres in Rating 75 company to make it two wins from three fresh-up starts.

Ritchie believes the grand-daughter of New Zealand and Australian Oaks runner-up Pavan has what it takes to win at stakes level over a middle distance provided he can keep her healthy during this campaign.

“I think this could be her year as she is a very good staying prospect as she showed with her placing in the Counties Cup last year and she is currently in a great place in the handicaps so we need to take advantage of that,” he said.

“She had a problem with bruised soles in her last preparation however she seems to be well over that now so we can concentrate on getting her ready for some of the better races that are coming up.”

Like most trainers at this time of the year, Ritchie has his eye firmly on the weather as he plots a path for the mare.

“She doesn’t cope with wet tracks so we have to take that into consideration when working out where to go with her next,” he noted.

“If the weather plays ball then I think she will go to the Matamata Cup next which is over a mile and then we will look to step her over further after that.

“Of course if it keeps raining she won’t go to Matamata and we will have to look at Plan B with her. While she doesn’t like wet tracks she also doesn’t want it flint hard so her best options are likely to be in the lead-up to Christmas before the tracks get baked hard over the summer.”

Ritchie is also looking forward to having two of last season’s three-year-old stars back in the stable over the next few weeks with both Glorious Lad and Chop Chop preparing to return after an extended winter break.

“They both did a great job for us last season and they have had some extra time in the paddock as they raced right through to the Brisbane winter carnival,” he said.

“They look to have strengthened up nicely and I would expect to have them back around Christmas time and ready for some of those nice races at Ellerslie then and during Auckland Cup Week in March.”

- NZ Racing Desk