Du Plessis ready for an awakening at Te Rapa

Mark Du Plessis, the country’s leading rider, will have his first raceday ride on Ruud Awakening at Te Rapa on Saturday and he’s not going to be disappointed.

That’s the message from Ruud Awakening’s biggest fan, her Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh, who is approaching Saturday’s Gr. 3 $70,000 Cambridge Jockey Club Breeders Stakes with military precision.

“Everything has fallen into place, other than the weather – and there’s nothing we can do about that,” said Marsh between races at Te Aroha yesterday. “Rhys, my foreman, is keeping a close watch while I’m here. She’s spot on and I don’t want anything to go wrong.

“She looks a picture and by taking her to Te Rapa to gallop yesterday it gave Mark (Du Plessis) a chance to get a real feel of her. He rode her in the trial (at Cambridge, but we couldn’t get a line on her at all that day because of the heavy track.

“Really it was D Day for her yesterday. She had to prove she was spot on and I thought her work was great.

“Mark was so much happier to see how well she went on a less rain-affected track. The track was a dead six and she stretched out beautifully.

“She galloped in company and after sitting a couple of lengths off, she picked up her mate pretty quickly and went to the line with her ears pricked. She ran her last 600 (metres) in 35 and Mark had a tight hold of her.

“It’s just what I wanted to see compared to her trial. The trial was to be the test for her but she floundered the whole way. She was never on the bit and really what it (the improvement) has come down to is the better track.”

Ruud Awakening has been brought back into work especially for Saturday’s race and she will then go out for a spell and return for a spring campaign.

It will be Ruud Awakening’s first New Zealand start since she easily defeated Bounding in the Gr. 1 Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie 13 months ago. She has been beaten just once in her six New Zealand starts and that defeat was in the Listed Murdoch Newell Stakes at Pukekohe when she was fractious in her stall and after beginning slowly she ran on strongly for second to Bounding.

Her last five starts have all been in Australia with the latest being a fourth of 16 over 1000 metres at Flemington on November 5.

Ruud Awakening will face a capacity field on Saturday with other chances from the Cambridge area.

Miss Foxwood, who finished second to last Saturday’s Sydney winner Beauty’s Beast at Te Aroha last start, is among the acceptors, as is Silver Eclipse, who is trained at Maungatautari by Stephen Ramsay and Julia Ritchie.

Shaune Ritchie has Repulse Bay in the field and Tony Pike, now training on his own account, is waiting for a scratching to get his smart galloper Allez Eagle into the raceday line-up. Miss Foxwood’s stablemate, Katie’s Cove, is also on the emergency list.