Tanaka for Peace Lilly

Under-rated Awapuni jockey Masa Tanaka has picked up the ride on Peace Lilly, a leading lightweight candidate for the Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge Wanganui Cup on Saturday.

Tanaka experienced a career highlight last January when recording his first Group One success on Booming in the Thorndon Mile at Trentham and later in the season he won the Group II Hawke’s Bay Cup on the Matamata stayer Don Domingo.

Tanaka has been a regular visitor to the northern region in recent months and his talented has been recognised by trainers, one of them being Cambridge’s Ralph Manning, who trains Peace Lilly.

Peace Lilly will be chasing her first stakes win on Saturday and Manning has her primed for the task, just as he did when she won impressively last start at Tauranga in a Rating 80 2100 when carrying 58kg. She drops to the minimum of 53kg on Saturday and will receive up to 6kg from most of the opposition.

Manning had planned to sneak Peace Lilly into the Group II Christchurch Casino NZ Cup, but was forced to switch to the Tauranga engagement when she was left on the ballot. “She peaked at the right time and I’m sure she would have given them a fright in the New Zealand Cup,” said Manning.

Peace Lilly is owned by The Oaks Stud and the Cambridge breeding establishment has had a very successful association with Manning over the years, particularly with its greatest achiever, Seachange, whom Manning prepared for seven Group One wins.

Peace Lilly is certainly not in Seachange’s class, but as Manning says she is capable of beating a good field on her day. Maybe that will happen on Saturday to give her stakes win number one.

Cambridge stables are also represented by two other runners in the CTL Wanganui Cup — the Roger James-trained Veronica Franco and Six O’Clock News, who is prepared by Trent Busuttin and his fiancée Natalie Young. Both horses trekked to Riccarton for the New Zealand Cup meeting and had no joy.

Veronica Franco left the North Island on an encouraging note when third over 1600 metres at Te Rapa, but failed to handle the wet track in the Group II Coupland’s Bakeries Mile and wound up 11th. She won twice over 2000 metres last season and strikes the same trip on Saturday.

Six O’Clock News copped a rocky run on the first day at Riccarton when ninth in the Gold Club Metropolitan Handicap then lost all chance when striking a heavy track for the New Zealand Cup, in which he finished among the tailenders.

He is a talented stayer when right, as he showed when winning the Group II City Of Auckland Cup a couple of years ago, but it has been a long time between celebratory drinks for his connections as his last win was at Otaki in February 2009.