Cornege has eyes on another prize

Cambridge trainer Fred Cornege is on the verge of losing one smart member of his team, but could have a replacement to keep up his good strike rate.

Negotiations are almost complete for the purchase of Universal Music, a last-start Hastings winner, and once the payment is made the son of Bertolini will head to Hong Kong for his future racing.

Universal Music has been a most consistent performer for Cornege this year, gaining two wins and three seconds from his last five starts. One of his seconds was behind the highly rated Baldovino and another to Royal Queen, a good winner for Jim Campin.

Cornege has only a small team in work and has had a profitable exercise selling horses to Hong Kong. Earlier this year he sold the promising Big Quick, who had three starts for him for a win and two placings. Under the name of Best City, he has gone on to win the last two of his five runs to date for Hong Kong trainer Caspar Fownes.

“A couple of years ago I sold a horse called My Mate Corby to Hong Kong, too,” said Cornege. “I’ve been lucky. Selling horses has kept us going.”

With Universal Music likely to leave the stable, Cornege will be left with three horses in training. They include the capable Shredder and Izonit, a relative newcomer to the team.

Izonit will have his first raceday start from Cornege’s stable when he contests the Gartshore Construction 1400 at Tauranga on Saturday.

“He came to me for three weeks to pre-train and that turned into six weeks then into two months,” said Cornege. “He was to go to Lance Noble, but then it was decided for me to trial him and when he went so well it was decided to leave him here for now.”

That trial was at Te Aroha on October 25 and Izonit proved too good for his rivals over 1200 metres. “Cameron Lammas rode him and he pulled his way to the front. He wanted to be there doing it,” said Cornege. “He’s thriving and enjoying it here so hopefully he goes well on Saturday. I’m quietly confident he will go a good race.”

Izonit began his career from the stable of Wayne and Vanessa Hillis at Matamata and showed a lot of ability as a three-year-old. During that season he was third behind Altered Image in the Group I Levin Classic and later won the Group III Oaks Stud Manawatu Classic (2000m).

Izonit was then taken to the Queensland Winter Carnival, where he was second in the Group II Hollindale Cup, and fifth in the Group I Queensland Derby.

After the Queensland trip he was purchased to race in Hong Kong, where he began with a third then a win, both at Sha Tin. He disappointed in four more starts and returned to New Zealand last year.

Back in the Hillis stable he had five starts, but failed to fire and it was decided a change of environment may help.

“We’re just taking it one step at a time with him,” said Cornege. “He’s getting every opportunity.”