A star weekend ahead for Herbert

A busy weekend could be a very profitable one for Cambridge trainer Anne Herbert.

Herbert will have form runners at Te Rapa, Awapuni and Ellerslie this weekend and it will be a major surprise if she heads home empty handed. Her main missions will be the Group II $100,000 Waikato Times Gold Cup at Te Rapa with Prairie Star and the Group III $70,000 Ezibuy Eulogy Stakes at Awapuni with Trendy.

Prairie Star dashed home late for fourth behind Postman’s Daughter in the Group II DHL Counties Cup at Pukekohe last start and will step up to 2400 metres on Saturday. “Going on her last run she should be a good chance,” said Herbert. “She’s small and was a bit intimidated by too many runners around her at Pukekohe. It wasn’t until she got a bit more racing room that she really got going.”

Prairie Star has registered three of her five wins on the Te Rapa track and seems a lot stronger than when she had her previous start over 2400. That was in the Summer Cup at Trentham last January when she pulled hard. Craig Grylls will again take the reins on Prairie Star this weekend and he has had three rides on the High Chaparral mare for a win (two starts ago) and two placings, the first being a third in the Listed Handsome Ransom Manawatu Breeders Stakes.

Whereas Prairie Star has faced top company, stablemate Trendy will be diving in the deep end on Saturday in the Ezibuy Eulogy Stakes. But Herbert believes she is ready to acquit herself well. “She’s pleased the way she’s been working and she shows courage at the end of her races. I’m optimistic about her chances,” said Herbert. “Vanessa Johnston will ride her. She’s not a big horse and a small rider like Vanessa suits her. Vanessa won on her at Te Rapa two starts ago.”

Herbert plans to head to Ellerslie on Boxing Day for the Group II Eight Carat Classic with Trendy if the Pins filly performs well on Saturday.

Joining Prairie Star at Te Rapa on Saturday will be the stablemates Last Picasso and Bee Jean. Last Picasso will start in the Dunstan Feeds Championship Premier and Bee Jean will run in the TR Pride Premier.

Last Picasso has won twice, including a maiden success at Te Rapa, but has disappointed in her latest starts. “Craig Grylls got off her last time and said she just wouldn’t go for him so we’ve got Noel Harris on this weekend,” said Herbert. “We want her to drop back and run home. She’s got the ability.”

Bee Jean, a five-year-old by Elusive City, has raced just five times. She won on debut at Te Rapa last January and hasn’t started since April, but Herbert was pleased with the way she trialled at Cambridge recently.

Herbert has also entered Gendarme for Te Rapa, but has decided instead to run him at Ellerslie on Sunday in the Suburban Newspapers Community Trust 1400. “Matt Cameron will ride him and we expect him to go well,” said Herbert. “He went a good race for second at Ellerslie, but the winner got too much of a break.”

Herbert’s other Ellerslie starter will be Barney in the Listed Mad Butcher Championship Stakes Prelude (2100m). “He’s still a maiden, but we’ve got a lot of time for him,” said Herbert. “We’re hoping to get to the Derby with him.”