Trainer Stephen Ralph is banking on Tahuroa Height’s fondness for Te Rapa to see him in the thick of the jumping action on Saturday.
The Te Awamutu-based conditioner will back-up the son of Zed in the Bridges Insurance Services Hurdle (3200m) following a midweek second on a testing track at Rotorua on Tuesday.
Tahuroa Height was successful over the smaller fences on the Hamilton course last month and is also a three-time placegetter, including one over this distance.
“One thing going for us is that he does like Te Rapa and that’s always a plus and hopefully he will like the faster track because he really does struggle on sticky, holding tracks,” Ralph said.
“Te Rapa will be a totally different race, given the track conditions and hopefully that will be in his range.”
Tahuroa Height is generally an on-pace runner and it wasn’t by design that he got off the pace under rider Kylan Wiles when they finished runners-up at the rescheduled midweek fixture at Arawa Park.
“It’s just the way it turned out after he stood in the gates, which is unusual for him,” said Ralph, who also shares in the ownership of the eight-year-old.
“Our instructions to any of our riders is not to panic and let the horses find their feet and if they want to go forward and lead then don’t argue with them.
“We try and get our jockeys to understand to work with the horses and not against them and that tends to get better results. If you argue, you get nowhere.”
Tahuroa Height breezed through his latest outing in fine order and, if appearances count, he can be a major contender.
“The track wasn’t his go and they were running very slow times,” Ralph said. “We were pleased the horse kept at it and kept going to the line.
“He absolutely looks stunning and has come through the race spot on.
“I would expect him to be further forward on Saturday and we want to get him to the Great Northern Hurdle (4200m) so it’s another stepping-stone for him.”
Ralph will also have a handful of runners at Matamata on Sunday and is expecting a much-improved showing from Monique Tonnerre in the Entain-NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1400m).
“We really rate her and just felt that she pulled up at Ruakaka last weekend because she got the sand kicked in her face,” he said.
“She can absolutely fly the gates and has got a lot of speed and she’s drawn 10 of 10, which is annoying so it’s going to be awkward, but I really do like this horse.”
Monique Tonnerre is a mare close to his heart as he trained her sire Thunder Down Under to win four races, including the Listed 3YO Salver (2100m), and her mother Monarch who is also the dam of the Ralph’s Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1200m) winner Santa Monica.