News & Events

Ashburton next for Jarcullembra on Cup campaign

By Michael Guerin

Jarcullembra’s New Zealand Cup campaign just got far too serious for him to be wasting his time at Cambridge tonight.

But while the star attraction will miss the meeting, stablemate Zenola Seelster could still make his comeback off an enormous 60m handicap.

Trainer Geoff Small was all but forced to nominate his two New Zealand Cup contenders for tonight’s minor $6000 handicap after one was beaten and the other denied a start by transportation problems last weekend. That has left them both sitting outside the prized 15 in the New Zealand Cup rankings, with time running out to break into the field.

With no suitable race at Alexandra Park tomorrow night, Small toyed with the idea of starting Jarcullembra off a 50m handicap tonight on the track where he finished second in last season’s Harness Jewels. But he realised that even victory off such a huge handicap could do little to boost Jarcullembra’s ranking so he will instead trial in the next week and head to Ashburton on Monday week.

“The Flying Stakes will be a hot field but if he can run in the first four then I think he makes his case for the Cup,” said Small.

“And we always have the option of the Kaikoura Cup the following week.

“So a few races like that will prove to us, and the handicapper, whether he deserves his hot at the Cup.

“At this stage I think he still does so we will give him every opportunity.”

While tonight’s feature on the small seven-race card at Cambridge was of little use to Jarcullembra, it still looks a race Zenola Seelster can win off the 60m mark. The front line is not strong and he is only being asked to give a claimer like Speedstar a 20m handicap. His greatest danger would be a rival off the front line stepping away fast and setting up a 3:27 or faster 2700m, meaning Zenola Seelster would need to pace around 3:22 post to post to win.

He would be good enough to do that when race fit but it would be a huge ask in his first race of a new campaign. Regardless of how he performs tonight, Zenola Seelster would now need a miracle to qualify for the new Zealand Cup.

Meanwhile, Terror To Love has opened the $2.20 for tomorrow night’s Canterbury Classic at Addington.  He heads a field including most of the New Zealand Cup favourites, including Auckland Reactor ($4), Gold Ace $5.50 and Sushi Sushi at $7.50.

Champion trotter I Can Doosit has opened a prohibitive $1.60 favourite for the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup even though is the sole 30m backmarker in a capacity field over 2600m.