Race Images - Gallops

Platinum Road … using Saturday’s Waikato Guineas as a stepping stone to the NZ Derby. PHOTO: Peter Rubery/Race Images.

Platinum on Road to the derby and will find Waikato Guineas rivals too sharp

Trainer Lisa Latta is hoping for a strong tempo in Saturday’s star-studded Waikato Guineas to help bring Platinum Road into the action.

The derby bound galloper is a $61 outsider for the 2000 metre contest and faces a small but outstanding line-up which includes NZ Derby favourite Dragon Leap and two of the country’s leading fillies in Travelling Light and Two Illicit.

And while Platinum Road has proven he is a promising stayer and only two of his rivals have scored at 2000 metres, Latta worries that with only seven runners the race might turn into a stop-start affair.

In Platinum Road’s favour is that the two Andrew Campbell-trained runners Peloton and Pimlico like to lead and Lauren Brennan’s Sword Of Freedom also likes to go forward, leaving open the possibility of a good tempo.

“He’s obviously suited to more than 2000 metres but we know he sees out the trip, whereas some of the others are unproven at the distance.

“He doesn’t pull, does everything right, and has a nice draw (three) so hopefully he won’t get too far out of his ground.

“It’s a very tough field but you’d like to see him be a bit competitive.”

Latta opted to run at Te Rapa rather than wait for the Avondale Guineas next weekend, keen not to tire the horse with two trips to Auckland in two weeks, with the $1 million New Zealand Derby on February 29.

It’s a schedule which she believes took its toll on her derby runner last year, Platinum Invador, who was an unlucky and late-dashing third after being late clear.

Platinum Road hasn’t put as many runs on the board as Platinum Invador yet but in his last three starts has shown he has a future over ground.

After powering home over 1600 metres to win at Trentham he ran a fine third over 2100 metres in his first look at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day then, last start, finished strongly for fourth over 2200 metres at Trentham.

Te Rapa’s renowned on-pace bias will be against his running style so Latta knows he could finish last and still please her from a derby point of view.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Saturday at Trentham

Race 1: Lincoln Valley

“He didn’t have all favours last start- he was three wide without cover the trip and the effort told in the last bit. He also got squeezed up a little late. From the six draw we will go forward and I’m sure Lisa will have learned a lot from him in his last run. His work has been really good and I have added a nasal strip as he is quite a noisy breather and it may help. It’s not an overly strong field and the big roomy track will suit.”

Race 7: Platinum Spirit

“We are racing him out of his grade so he gets in at a nice light weight. Carrying 60kg last start was a really big ask and he got there a touch too soon. He has drawn awkwardly at 12 but he has the ability to put himself in the race if there’s a lack of speed. He looks fantastic and still holds a nomination for the Wellington Cup next week but might need to gain a few more points to get into the field. Chris Dell rides.”

Race 8: Father Lenihan

“The outside draw is tricky but Robbie knows him well - he’s ridden him in three of his four wins - and I’m sure he will make him jump and put him on the speed. He’s been out of the winner’s circle for a while but he went a great race last start and this field is nowhere near as strong. We were going to step him up over ground but he sits so awkwardly in the ratings at 76 that he would be carrying the top weight of 62kg in a R74 2000m.”