Antonio Lombardo on target to defend Hastings crown

Veteran sprinter Antonio Lombardo showed he is on target to defend his Gr. 3 Linwood Park Stud Spring Sprint title at Hastings in October with a resounding victory at Ruakaka on the weekend.

The now seven-year-old galloper has been set for the feature sprint on the last day of the Hawkes Bay Spring Carnival by trainer’s Peter and Jacob McKay, with Saturday’s performance his final dress rehearsal in preparation for the event.
“We’ve had the Hastings race in mind for him since he came back into work this time and he has been building nicely towards it,” explained Jacob McKay.

“He is pretty much at peak now and we were confident of a good run on the weekend as he had been very unlucky last time after being hampered in the straight when making a run.”

Sent out a warm favourite by punters for Saturday’s open 1200 metre event, Antonio Lombardo took full advantage of rider Shaun McKay’s two kilogram claim to charge to the lead at the top of the straight before comfortably holding out the challenge of multiple Gr. 1 winner Shuka in the drive to the finishing line.

“Shaun rode him nicely as the horse seems to go best when he can be in front early in the run home and showed that again on Saturday,” said McKay.

“He was a pretty happy horse when he got home last night so as long as he shows no ill effects in the next few days he will be heading to Hastings next.”

McKay also confirmed former New Zealand Derby winner Puccini would take his place in the Gr. 1 Windsor Park Plate this weekend. Puccini finished well back in the Gr. 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes at his last run but has progressed nicely since then with McKay confident his charge will put in an improved showing in Saturday’s feature. – NZ Racing Desk

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