Ritchie hitting Trentham hard

Cut Loose (Mark Du Plessis) earning a Wellington Guineas start with a convincing Hastings win.

Cut Loose (Mark Du Plessis) earning a Wellington Guineas start with a convincing Hastings win.

Trainer Shaune Ritchie has a strong-hand at Trentham on Saturday.

Headed by Gr.1 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks contender Devise, Ritchie also has support-card runners with strong winning prospects.

The Cambridge trainer will also shoot for Group-race success at Trentham with Cut Me Loose in the Gr.2 Grant Plumbing Wellington Guineas (1400m) and Let Her Rip in the Gr.3 Wentwood Grange Cuddle Stakes (1600m).

Last-start New Plymouth winner Let Her Rip was also entered for the Gr.2 Westbury Classic (1400m) at Ellerslie, but Ritchie was keen to test her over 1600 metres with an eye on the Gr.1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 8.

“We need to see if she runs out a mile strongly enough in preparation for Te Aroha,” he said.

“To my mind, the Cuddle Stakes is three or four lengths weaker than the Westbury Classic. Those mares have been there, done that and heading to the Cuddle just makes more sense.

“Her work has been superb. I’ve always felt she was up to black-type and this is her first crack at it.

“She can rip off some good sectionals ridden cold but then last start she was ridden handier and she still won nicely. She’s got a few strings to her bow now and we think she’ll run well.”

It is clear Ritchie has a soft spot for Cut Me Loose, a winner of two of his three starts facing his biggest test on Saturday.

“He’s a beautiful mover,” he said. “He’s a lovely-natured, laid-back colt with two white feet and when he really gets into his gear, he’s got an extravagant galloping action that makes him pretty to watch.

“He led last start but that’s because it was the safest way for him to win. He’ll take a sit this time. This is his biggest test but I’ve got no doubt he’s earned his chance.”

– NZ Racing Desk