Walker back in Stakes action

Michael Walker will be reacquainted with Wellington Cup winner Young Centaur in the Group Two Waikato Gold Cup at Te Rapa on Saturday.

MichaelWalker Walker is a week into his comeback to competitive riding after a six-month layoff because of serious head injuries he received in a pig-hunting accident.

He combined with Young Centaur for a commanding win in the Wellington Cup in January, while veteran Noel Harris has been on the horse in recent starts including his half-head second to Hoorang in the New Zealand Cup at Riccarton on November 15.

"Noel was already booked for Six O’Clock News because Young Centaur wasn’t originally going to run in this race," trainer John Sargent said.

"I wasn’t going to run him but he has done very well since Riccarton and he is ready for this race on Saturday."

Sargent said he was pleased to have Walker’s services, particularly as he already had a successful association with the horse.

Walker may have wished for an earlier link with the stable – he had three seconds and a third at the Opunake meeting on Thursday while Sargent had three wins.

Young Centaur, $6 second favourite on the TAB for the Waikato Cup, has drawn well in barrier two.

"It’s a nice draw and he will just go to sleep behind the pace and let’s hope it’s a good pace so he can sprint home well," Sargent said.

Six O’Clock News, who finished eighth in the Counties Cup but was less than two lengths away from winner Gallions Reach, was the $5.50 favourite today, with Gallions Reach at $6.50 and Genuine Offer at $7.50.

Sargent, who also has Lovetrista in the Cup, said Young Centaur had the Group Two City of Auckland Cup on Boxing Day and the Group Two Wellington Cup on January 24 on his program.

Sargent has three runners in the Group Two Cal Isuzu 1600 Stakes over 1600m for fillies and mares on Saturday in Ruud Van Slaats, Taatyana and Crossword.

"Ruud Van Slaats would be the favourite of my three, she’s got a bit of class about her," Sargent said.
It is the Van Nistlerooy mare’s first attempt at 1600m but she was impressive in winning the Group Two Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Pukekohe over 1400m last month.

"She loves the course and should bowl along up handy and hopefully see out the distance," Sargent said.