Gingernuts, one of the most exciting 3-year-olds in Australia and New Zealand last season, is being aimed at the G1 Caulfield Cup at the Melbourne Spring Carnival, and his rivals had better watch out if his trainers are right about the improvement he has made.
The New Zealand Derby winner is one of a number of horses (including Royal Ascot G1 hero Ribchester and Australian Derby winner Jon Snow) that have made his sire, Iffraaj, among the stallions of the year so far.
Gingernuts emerged from humble form beginnings earlier this year to become a headline act for trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards (world-ranked 67 in the TRC trainers’ standings), and he has bulked up during his time away from his Matamata stable in New Zealand.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a horse improve as much as he did,” Autridge said. “He was battling away at the easier race meetings, Stratford and Te Teko, but as soon as we stepped him up over ground he found his niche and his confidence grew with it.
“He’s a horse that won the Avondale Guineas [in New Zealand], our Derby and the Rosehill Guineas [in Australia] and wasn’t under any stress to win them, so we wouldn’t know what we’ve really got next season until we step him up against the best older horses.”
Off the back of his heroics this year, Gingernuts thrived during his break.
“He’s put on 40 kilos with his spell at Te Akau Stud and since he came back into work in May he’s been bouncing around like a 2-year-old,” Autridge said. “We’re rapt with the way he’s going and the way he looks. He has certainly improved.”
Autridge said Gingernuts would more than likely have two trials before racing, the first of them on August 1 at Te Teko.
“We’re thinking he could run on the last two days of the Hawke’s Bay carnival and then go for the Caulfield Cup, but at the same time we are at the stage of looking through Melbourne programmes and we’ll take into account the path that recent Caulfield Cup winners have taken.”
Gingernuts is likely to be joined at the Te Teko trials by his brother Griffin, winner of his only juvenile start.
“He’s very strong and we’re happy with him,” Autridge said. “He will be ready early for the 3-year-old races. We haven’t decided as yet whether he’s a horse we send to Christchurch, or keep him up here.”
Iffraaj, a Darley shuttle stallion, is currently world-ranked 30 in theTRC sires’ standings.