Callsign Mav returns at Awapuni

17 DEC 20 | NZ Racing Desk

Hawke’s Bay trainer John Bary believes Saturday’s Gr.2 Kevin Pratt Memorial Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni is the ideal race for resuming Group One winner Callsign Mav.

The four-year-old son of Atlante stunned punters when winning the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) in spring at odds of 80-1 and backed that performance up with a third placing to Melody Belle in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m).

Bary is confident his charge is well prepared for the fresh-up assignment after a trial at Taupo last month where he finished a close second over 1050m.

“He is about forward as he was before the first Group One of the season,” Bary said.

“We were thrilled with his trial at Taupo. He wasn’t going to trial there, but we snuck that one in which was good.

“We were going to trial at Foxton the other day but it was a Heavy10 so he did an exhibition gallop at Hastings which was pleasing.

“He had been down to Waipukurau and galloped in company with Miss Labasa so we have kept it up to him.

“Once he was in the paddock after the second day at Hastings we just thought ‘where’s next?’.

“Once they slaughter you with those points, going from 80 to 103, then you are weight for age pretty much.

“His main aim is this race and then we are looking at Te Rapa in February (Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint, 1400m) and then the Haunui Farm WFA (Gr.1, 1600m) two weeks later. We will decide after Saturday if we need a run in January.”

Longer term, Bary is keen to try Callsign Mav over ground and said the gelding, who prefers racing left-handed, will sport visor blinkers on Saturday for the first time.

Connections of Callsign Mav have become accustomed to wide barriers, and on Saturday he will jump from the outside gate of 8, with Jonathan Riddell to ride. 

“From out there we can stride forward and Jonathan can decide what he wants to do if Amarula or something decides to lead,” Bary said.

“We could get into the trail somewhere or if we get parked out we can go forward, he has tactical gate speed.

“We have also been working with visor blinkers and a noseband because he has to learn to settle better and Jonathan was very happy with him in the trial. He said he is a different horse, he is happier.”

Bary will have a two-pronged attack on Saturday’s weight-for-age contest, with Motivation backing up after finishing seventh to Coventina Bay in last Saturday’s Gr.3 J Swap Sprint (1400m) where he was blocked for a run at a crucial stage.

“He didn’t get much of a run on Saturday, he travelled up and not saying we would have got first or second but if Julius wasn’t in the way we might have made a bid for third or fourth,” Bary said.