The New Zealand Cup is a magnificent event.
A carnival atmosphere matched with a beautiful facility, great racing and north of 20,000 race-goers all looking for a good time and a few winners. It’s a very similar feel to the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
I was on course in 2017 when the great Lazarus won his second consecutive Cup. For a Harness fan, it was almost the equal of witnessing the legendary Winx win her third Cox Plate just weeks earlier.
This year’s Cup has plenty of questions needing answers. There’s no dominant favourite like a Lazarus but the All Stars barn still have a stranglehold on the Cup. It’s theirs to lose.
Aussie iron-horse San Carlo leads the brigade of horses aiming to upend the standardbred version of the Blue Army.
It’s a 12-race card packed with many winning hopes which is not always the case in Harness racing.
Here’s how I see the huge day going down;
Race 10 – Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m, $750,000)
Dynamic training duo Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen undoubtedly have this Cup at their mercy but this race is by no means a foregone conclusion with many possibilities on the horizon.
Aussie San Carlo will make his stand start debut from barrier one, which is no easy situation, particularly in a NZ Cup. Whether he steps away quickly or not could decide his fate for the remaining 3100m.
Favoured pair Spankem and Thefixer will leave from barrier six and seven which is almost perfect for the reliable beginners. My speed map sees Spankem finding the front before handing to Thefixer shortly thereafter and IF that occurs, it’s hard to see anyone else winning.
Hail Christian (gate two), Classie Brigade, Cruz Bromac, Mach Shard and the erratic but ultra talented Chase Auckland all have chances to run a place or at least top five.
1 Spankem $2.20
2 Thefixer $2.70
3 Chase Auckland $14
4 San Carlo $7
Race 7 – McMillan Equine Feeds Sires Stakes Final (1980m, $170,000)
Predicting the path of younger horses is sometimes foolish but on presented evidence this crop of three-year-olds do not look to be the best we’ve seen.
One Change is classy and has won good races whilst a few others have either burst onto the scene or competed admirably throughout their rookie campaigns.
The aforementioned One Change leads this crew, especially with a beautiful barrier (two). Exciting talent – and stable mate – Italian Lad follows out One Change and will either occupy the breeze or press on and take the front.
In either scenario I still see One Change winning. Robert Dunn-trained Above N Beyond and Northerner Copy That have decent form whilst All Stars ‘second-stringers’ Aqua Sancta, Virgil and especially Flying Even Bettor have place claims.
1 One Change $2
2 Italian Lad $3.40
3 Flying Even Bettor $10
4 Above N Beyond $5
1 Dream of Glory $8
2 Sugar Loaf $3
3 The Power of Prayer $4.40
4 Princess Jessie $11
1 Ultimate Sniper $1.80
2 Triple Eight $2.50
3 Another Masterpiece $3.70
4 A Bettor Act $17
1 Better Fly $4
2 Nakuru $8
3 Nemera Franco $2.20
4 Major Sass $17
1 Tough Monarch – Aussie racing in sensational form. Has thrashed Tornado Valley.
2 Winterfell – All Stars talent who can occasionally do wrong. On his best, would win.
3 McLovin – Kiwi-turned-Aussie returning home. Racing in fine form but draws horrid.
4 Majestic Man – Placed in Anzac and Rowe Cup. Can compete with these.
1 Heisenberg $2.80
2 Amazing Dream $1.80
3 Letterkenny Boy $11
4 Bettathanfast $14
1 Belmont Major $2.40
2 Copperfield $3
3 Roll The Dice $14
4 Storm $7
1 Lone Star Lad $3.80
2 Never Mind $8
3 B D Yasothon $2.25
4 Springbank Lachie $17
1 Taxman $1.75
2 Dan Fernando $10
3 Tango Tara $7.50
4 Carlos Bromac $67
R2) 3, 6, 9, 13
R3) 2, 3, 8, 10, 11
R4) 3, 5, 6
R5) 1, 6, 12
R9) 2, 14, 15, 16
R10) 6, 7
R11) 1, 2, 5
R2 N13 Dream of Glory each way $8 / $2.80
R7 F4: 2, 11 / 2, 11 / 1, 9 / F
R8 Quinella 6/9
R10 Quinella 6/7
R12 N1 Taxman win $1.75
R12 Exacta 1 from 12
Most will be doing the same as me – watching from afar wishing we were there. So, enjoy anyway and this time next year I’ll meet you on the lawn for a beer at Addington Raceway for the 2020 New Zealand Cup.