On target for Wellington Cup

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is gearing up for another Trentham highlight.

That message was handed out at Thames yesterday when Roi d’jeu overcame the turning track as the backrunner stormed to a strong win in the Lockwood Coastwood Thames Cup (2000m). Rider Jason Waddell settled him last, set him alight across the top and had him at full power in the short run home to run past Bruce Almighty and win by a length.

Ritchie chose the Thames feature as a leadup to Roi d’jeu’s main mission, the Group II Wellington Cup (2400m) at Trentham on January 3. And after the race he had good reason to look forward to the trip south.

Trentham has already provided Ritchie with a few highlights, including the Group I NZ Oaks success of Keep The Peace. And now he is seeking to add the Wellington Cup to his Cups record, which also includes the NZ Cup with My Scotsgrey.

Roi d’jeu, a son of Montjeu, went into the Thames Cup with just one leadup run since being freshened after the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival. He hinted he was on the right track in that outing, finishing second to Cambridge Group I winner Veyron in an open 1600 metres at Te Rapa last month.

There has never been a doubt about the staying ability of Roi d’jeu and now that he is a bit stronger he could realise the potential he has shown.

He has won eight of his 26 starts and four of those successes have been in the last 12 months. In January last year he won the Summer Cup (2400m) at Trentham and followed with a 2300-metre win at Otaki, while his other win in the period came in the Te Aroha Cup (2200m) a couple of months later.

Roi d’jeu went on from the Te Aroha Cup win to finish second behind Indikator in the Group III Platinum Homes NZ Rotorua Cup (2200m), then had one start in Sydney, finishing fifth in the Listed W.J. McKell Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill.

His staying ability was also shown to some extent the previous 12 months when he  won a Rating 80 2200 at Rotorua then finished fourth in both the Group III Gold Club Metropolitan Handicap (2500m) and the Group II Christchurch Casino NZ Cup (3200m), both at Riccarton.

Yesterday’s Thames meeting started off well for Cambridge when trainer Martin Cleland won the first event with Mr Mojito, ridden by Alysha Collett.  Cambridge apprentice Alex Forbes then chimed in with a win in the second race on Abeauty and Cambridge trainer Ralph Manning was in the winner’s circle after the fourth event victory of Captain Marvel.

Sam Collett did her part for Cambridge when winning the sixth race on Sonoza and Jason Waddell and Shaune Ritchie then came up trumps in the next event with Roi d’jeu.