Vonusti backing up

A decision to back up Vonusti will see the Group I winner return to his happy hunting ground of Trentham this weekend.

Trainers Tim and Margaret Carter threw in a nomination today for the Group I $200,000 Westbury Stud Captain Cook Stakes on Saturday and after talking it over with Leith Innes they have decided to press ahead with a start in the weight-for-age 1600-metre event.

“Leith rode him last Saturday at Ellerslie and he’s advised us to take him down and have a go,” said Tim Carter. “He was happy enough with his run.”

Vonusti finished fourth in the Group III Eagle Technology Stakes, just over three-quarters of a length behind popular local winner Veyron, who was ridden by Rogan Norvall and is trained at Cambridge by Linda Laing. But Innes won’t be aboard Vonusti this weekend as Noel Harris will be reunited with the talented sprinter while Innes will be riding at Ellerslie.

“I told Leith if he goes down the owners want Noel to ride him down there but he’ll get a go again later on,” said Carter. “He seemed happy with that.”

Harris is the last jockey to have won on Vonusti and that success came almost two years ago in the Group I Telegraph Handicap at Trentham. That is the biggest win recorded by the Carters and it came on Vonusti’s first trip to Trentham.

“He’s only had two runs down there so he likes the track,” said Carter acknowledging that Vonusti’s other Trentham start was in last season’s Telegraph Handicap when finishing fourth to Mufhasa, who will again be an opponent on Saturday.

Though it has been a long time between celebratory drinks for Vonusti’s connections, Carter believes the horse could finally be nearing his best form again. “Being older he’s taken longer to come up, but his last run was a good one,” said Carter. “We’ve been trying to get him used to running 1600 and it might have taken the edge off him a bit, but he should go well on Saturday.”

The Telegraph Handicap is again on the programme for Vonusti so he will be freshened after Saturday’s race. “All going well he’ll be back for the Telegraph then back up in the Thorndon Mile,” said Carter.