Soon-to-be-sidelined Du Plessis making most of chances with Emerald Queen

Mark Du Plessis is eager to make the most of his Group-race opportunities in the coming weeks as he counts down the days to shoulder surgery.
The leading South Auckland jockey is scheduled to go under the knife on April 28 to repair a tendon injury to his shoulder.
“I’ll be out for the best part of six months,” Du Plessis revealed.
“It’s just wear and tear from falls and things. I just need to get it sorted out. I have to make sure I warm up well before riding but it’s never that good after the races.”
Du Plessis will resume his quest for stakes wins at Awapuni on Friday when he teams up with the Shane Kennedy and Anna Furlong-trained Emerald Queen in the Gr.3 Swap Stockfoods Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes (2000m).
He has ridden the five-year-old O’Reilly mare in her last two races, for fourth placings in the Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham and in the Gr.2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m).
“They’ve taken the side winkers off and we’ll ride her a bit more positively so she doesn’t over-race without them,” Du Plessis said.
“She’s a mare who doesn’t really like going through gaps and is better coming around them. Her runs leading in have been very good but she just pulls too hard. I asked to take the headgear off her to help her settle. Without the gear and if she can relax in running closer to the speed, I rate her a very good chance of winning.”
Emerald Queen, a winner of seven of her 29 starts, including three at Listed level, is the highest-rated runner in the Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes, which has attracted a field of 14, among them mares of the ilk of Rohaise, Decorah, Gwynethanne, Irion, Smartly, Celebrity Miss, Flying Orca and Endeavour.
Du Plessis will head further south for riding duties on Saturday, with his feature rides at Riccarton aboard Consensus in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Airfreight Stakes and Too Much Torque in the Listed Christchurch Casino Easter Cup.
“There’s good stakes at Riccarton on Saturday and we know Concensus has got the ability to win that race anyway,” Du Plessis said.
The horse really getting Du Plessis excited at present is Group One winner Vespa, who will chase more elite-level spoils in the Easter Handicap at Ellerslie on Saturday week.
“He won well again the other day but he showed me he’s still got a bit of improvement in him to come,” Du Plessis said.
“He’s come back a bigger, stronger horses and he’ll need that extra improvement going into the mile but I know he’ll be ready.” – NZ Racing Desk

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