29 MAR 21 | NZ Racing Desk

Group One winner Callsign Mav will be in action at Awapuni on Saturday, where he will be tried beyond a mile for the first time in his career in the Gr.2 City Of Palmerston North Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m).

Prepared by Hastings trainer John Bary, Callsign Mav has been a consistent performer throughout his 16-start career, netting five wins and seven placings, highlighted by victory in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at the beginning of the season.

Runner-up to Avantage at Group One level over 1600m at Otaki last start, Bary is confident Callsign Mav can extend to a middle distance and add another string to his bow.

“Everything indicates he will be fine out to the 2000m,” Bary said.

“He was running through the line well at Otaki, he was chasing hard and took the whole back straight to pull up.

“All the signs tell me he will be fine over the distance and Jonathan Riddell, who rides him, said it will be no problem at all.”

Bary said the horse hadn’t been tried over further than a mile to date simply because the races haven’t aligned at the distance at the right stage of his preparation until now.

“There was only the third leg in the spring (Gr.1 LIvamol Classic, 2040m) and he’d had enough after the first two legs,” he said.

“The races haven’t really lined up on where we wanted to go.

“If he gets it (the 2000m), then it opens up a few more doors for us in the spring.”

Regular rider Jonathan Riddell will again partner the four-year-old son of Atlante, having also had the option to ride Royal Performer, on whom he won the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m)

“I suppose he has taken the line that Mav has had a pretty good season, he hasn’t run worse than third all season and has been racing in Group Ones in four of his six starts,” Bary said

“He is a horse on the up and up. He is only four and still learning what to do.”

The gelding is five weeks between runs but Bary has kept him up to the mark with a 1400m trial at Foxton last week, where he finished second under a hold behind Hunta Pence, in addition to trips away to gallop at Waipukurau.

“It is just my style of training. He has been up all season and if he isn’t fit enough now then he probably never will be.

“My only concern will be the track and the rain and how much they get. I don’t think I would start him on anything worse than a Slow7.

“I’m just hoping they don’t get much rain. It is the end of summer so any rain they do get it should handle it.”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but given the gelding’s consitencey it is hard to fathom Callsign Mav paid $82 when comfortably winning the Tarzino Trophy.

“I don’t think he will ever pay 80-1 again, but you do have to remember it is a big step from their three-year-old season to four,” Bary said.

“He took the step thankfully for me and the owners and away we go.”

Satuday’s contest will be the last run of the season for Callsign Mav and Bary has been content to keep him to racing left-handed to best suit his conformation.

“It is definitely his last run of the campaign, he has run really well so he will be in the spelling paddock for a couple of months and then we start it all again.

“He turns out in his right front and it probably turns out a two or three out of five, hence we have kept him racing left-handed. He works reverse way on my track at home, which is tightish, two days a week and gallops no problem. But I think race day pressure, leading on that leg is a different thing and I don’t think there has been a need to do it.”

Callsign Mav won’t be Bary’s only runner at Awapuni on Saturday, with stablemates Motivation, Bucky and Ask Pa likely to be seen in action.

Motivation, who has finished fourth at black-type level on three occasions, will tackle the Listed Bramco Granite & Marble Flying Handicap (1400m).

“He races best fresh up so we have done that. It was a good trial the other day chasing home Deerfield.

“We aimed specifically for this race and whether he carries on to Hastings in a couple of weeks, I’m not sure but we are really trying to crack it here. He has been racing consistently all season against good horses. It would be really nice for Christopher and Susanna Grace (owners and breeders) to get some black-type for him and the whole family.

“Bucky will run in the Rating 74 1200m race, while Ask Pa will probably drop back to a mile in a Rating 65 on Saturday.

“She is a half sister to Miss Selby and was a last-start winner that was meant to run over 2000m at Tauherenikau on Sunday (meeting abandoned after one race). She is a nice progressive mare in the making, a four-year-old by Ocean Park out of Singing Star that keeps putting her hand up.”

The trip to Tauherenikau was not totally wasted for Bary, with three-year-old filly Wicket Maiden notching her third career victory in the sole race before the meeting was abandoned due to the inconsistent nature of the track near the 600m mark.

“At least I can say I trained the card,” Bary quipped.

“It is really good to have her back. She had three starts as a two-year-old and won two of them and ran a really good race on an off track in the Matamata Breeders’ (Gr.2, 1200m) but went missing in the spring and we couldn’t get her back.

“She did a lot of growing and all looks good so we will carry on and all going well we will have a crack at Hastings and she will go to the Group Three (Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes, 1200m) at Te Rapa on May 1.” – NZ Racing Desk