The winner of the 2018 New Zealand Trotting Cup was perhaps not the best performed horse in the race, but that’s to take absolutely nothing away from eventual champion, Thefixer.
Such was Aussie Tiger Tara’s mammoth effort in second place, even winning driver Natalie Rasmussen had to hail Tiger Tara as a deserved winner.
Sometimes in racing – and life for that matter – it can be better to be lucky than be good. In Tuesday’s $800,000 Cup, Thefixer was both.
He stepped beautifully after an awkward and somewhat unnecessary false start before handing up the lead to stable mate, Dream About Me. From there, it was only a matter of time before Todd McCarthy came knocking with Tiger Tara and down the back the first time, he got to the parked position relatively easily. He never pressed the mare for the lead but was happy enough to race comfortably in the breeze.
From there, it was always going to be the mare, the Aussie or the newcomer and whichever horse received the best run across the 3200m journey was going to come out victorious.
Entering the home turn, the trio kicked away and the real battle began.
Dream About Me saw the winners post first but Tiger Tara was powering and quickly got past the mare, who did not go down without a fight but the horse who was always going to have the last laugh was Thefixer. With Tim Williams making the pace on Dream About Me and McCarthy punching the breeze with Tiger Tara, Rasmussen was able to conserve just enough energy to sneak home up the sprint lane.
At the furlong, Tiger Tara looked home. With 20m remaining, Thefixer found just enough power to hit the line in position numero uno.
Thefixer is the champion and he collects more than 400k for his owners but the admiration for Tiger Tara must continue to grow. He’s the only remaining horse who has contested every big race in the past 18 months and he continues to front up and perform highly.
He’s competed in five consecutive New Zealand Cups and placed in the past three. A truly remarkable effort!
Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me was great in third and former Aussie Cruz Bromac was an eye-catcher in fourth despite mixing his action.
It’s unclear which Cup competitors will press onto the $200,000 Group 1 this Friday but there are more than enough open class stars to make that another grand event. Here’s hoping Cup withdrawal Ultimate Machete makes the race.
Speaking of Ultimate, Machete’s baby brother Ultimate Sniper was magnificent in the Sires Stakes Final.
He worked three-wide early, got to the breeze against a streaking leader in Heisenberg and simply willed his way past them in the lane. He’s ended up posting a 1:52.9 mile rate, stunning for an early three-year-old with only four career starts to his name.
Speeding Spur took out the Trotters Free-For-All despite either switching off or tiring late in the run and he looms as a standout for the $300,000 Dominion this Friday. Australian veteran Kyvalley Blur made a dashing late run to roll into fifth place, less than two lengths away from the leaders.
Aside from the main races, the other talking point was the sheer domination of All Stars. In all, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-prepared horses won eight of the nine races they competed in. Among those victories, they collected three quinellas and a trifecta. It’s an incredible domination of New Zealand’s biggest race day. It’s one that provides mixed feelings but my view is simple – All Stars are achieving greatness, it’s up to the rest to catch up.
The All Stars have won the past five consecutive Sires Stakes Finals and the last three NZ Cups (Lazarus twice & Thefixer)
All eyes now turn to Friday’s Show Day meeting before everything rolls toward ID18.
It’s an incredibly exciting time in Harness Racing.