News & Events

Aslan returns after 23 months

By Michael Guerin

Aslan makes trainer Robert Mitchell shake his head often enough he knows he can’t rule out a winning comeback from the speedster at Cambridge tonight.

Even though Mitchell knows intermediate class horses winning fresh-up after two years away from the track are almost unheard of. A one-time Harness Jewels placegetter, Aslan hasn’t raced for 23 months because of injury and returns to the track off a 30m handicap in the Te Awamutu Cup tonight.

Standing alongside him will be his old foe Five Star Anvil, who incredibly finished second to Aslan when he won his last start back in October 2010. There has always been little between the pair on ability but with three recent runs under his belt Five Star Anvil deserves favouritism tonight.

“It will be hard for my horse to beat Five Star Anvil fresh-up,” admitted Mitchell, who is back training the team of his son Todd, who is suspended until December.

“But this horse is very good. I work him down the beach and sometimes he does things that make me shake my head.

“So while he probably shouldn’t win, I wouldn’t totally write him off.”

Aslan has had three trials to ready himself for tonight and is even among the nominations for November’s New Zealand Cup.

“We chucked him in to give us options but when you look at the depth of the field it isn’t a likely target.

“And being only assessed as a seven-win horse he would struggle to get a start unless he did something dramatic in the next two months.”

Five Star Anvil deserves favouritism for tonight’s 2700m event even from his backmark as he too is nominated for the New Zealand Cup. He bolted in last start at Alexandra Park and has the sort of sharp speed that can help overcome a handicap at Cambridge.

As for Mitchell, how does he see his rejuvenated training career progressing once his son returns?

“I love training this fella (Aslan) on the beach because he is a lovely horse but I don’t have any ambitions to train a big team anymore.”