News & Events

Aussies on track for NZ Cup

By Michael Guerin

The chances of a second Australian starter in the $600,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup appear to be improving by the day.

Sushi Sushi, who has been trained in Australia until last month but is now in the care of Mark Purdon, looks a definite Cup entry and is likely to start his new career next week at Addington.

But he is looking increasingly likely to be joined in Addington’s greatest race on November 13 by Caribbean Blaster.

The five-year-old downed Sushi Sushi in the $200,000 Chariots of Fire last season as well as winning the Australasian Breeders Crown four-year-old final.He was initially ranked 14th in the order for the New Zealand Cup and when Franco Ledger leap-frogged him, trainer Andy Gath was concerned his stable star could miss an Addington start.

But events since suggest he may be fine.

Firstly, two-time Cup winner Monkey King pulled out and then the same two horses who quinellaed the Maurice Holmes Vase, Franco Ledger and Franco Emirate, repeated that in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru. That meant no more sudden changes to the ranking order and with the really big names like Terror To Love, Gold Ace and Auckland Reactor set to contest the main lead-up races from now on, it is going to be increasing hard for bolters to burst into contention.

That is especially good news for Caribbean Blaster since he is already in the field and may only have two lead-up races to the Cup.

“I was a little concerned at one stage a few weeks ago because we aren’t going to get the same lead-up chances at the Kiwi horses,” said Gath.

“But the way it is all going to pan out I think we should be fine and we are aiming for the Kilmore Cup to be his main lead-up race.

“If he is good enough to win that he should be guaranteed a start and then we can concentrate on getting him spot on.

“But at this stage we are booked and fully intend coming.”

The news is not so certain with his Victorian arch-rival Mustang Mach, who is already a group one winner in  New Zealand, having won last season’s Messenger at Alexandra Park. He sits 17th in the rankings and while he would probably sneak in because of natural attrition his connections have indicated they are wavering until they have a more definite Cup time line.

The other Australian entry, the Canterbury-owned Talaspring, has been in good form in easier races in  Victoria but faces a near mission impossible to get a Cup start.