Military Move will make his Australian racing debut in the 2014 Wimmers Soft Drinks A.D. Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast on Saturday and trainer Shaune Ritchie is expecting a cheeky performance from the Group 1 winner.
Military Move was a leading performer in New Zealand as a three-year-old, winning the 2010 Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m), and was sent to Hong Kong at the end of 2010, but recorded only two wins from 19 starts.
The Volksraad gelding joined the stable of Ritchie in 2013 and he has gradually started to find his best form; winning the Group 3 Manawatu Cup (2300m) at Awapuni on December 21 before finishing second in the Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m) on March 29.
Ritchie told Sky Racing HQ that he does not rate Military Move a winning chance in the Wimmers Soft Drinks A.D. Hollindale Stakes this weekend, but is hoping that the seven-year-old will produce a competitive performance.
“He is in great form Military Move,” Ritchie said.
“We don’t have any allusions of grandeur regarding the Hollindale Cup on Saturday
“He has been a very good horse and he won the Derby here in New Zealand and was beaten narrowly by the champion filly Katie Lee, but that was his three-year-old days.
“Since then he has gone to Hong Kong and he didn’t really settle into the boxes up there and the environment.
“His current form is super; we worked out that he is better when he has a month or six weeks between races and he is very clean winded.
“I think that he is capable of running a cheeky race on Saturday, but we are more looking at seeing where he is placed to land in the carnival as it progresses.
“He is in great order and from that perspective I am expecting him to run a nice sort of a race.
“Having said that he is not as good as a horse like Streama, but he will be thereabouts in the minor money if he is on his game.”
Ritchie will be using the performance of Military Move in the Hollindale Stakes to gauge which races he will set the veteran gelding for during the 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
The leading New Zealand trainer said that he would like to step Military Move up to 2400 metres for the Group 2 Brisbane Cup at Eagle Farm on June 7, but is worried that the Group 1 winner will receive too much weight from Queensland Racing handicappers.
“He will certainly be nominated for the Brisbane Cup,” Ritchie said.
“It just depends on how the handicapper treats him because he has won a good bit of prizemoney and he is relatively consistent.
“We are hoping to sneak into those races as we go along and there are other races there for him like the Eagle Farm Cup.
“We will see how he is treated as the better horses start to appear and where we are placed in the handicap.”
Ritchie is chasing his first win at Group level in Australia since Zurella took out the 2012 edition of the Let’s Elope Stakes.