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Terror To Love earning respect on path to NZ Cup defence

By Michael Guerin

Terror To Love should take the step to even hotter New Zealand Cup favouritism by winning Monday’s $60,000 Flying Stakes at Ashburton. Because while the five-year-old stallion can’t win the Cup this Monday, he can earn respect that will take him a long way toward defending his title.

Terror To Love is already a $3 favourite for the New Zealand Cup and victory on Monday, in what is far and away the most important lead-up race, could see him as shorted to $2.50. Anything below that of price is usually reserved for the modern day greats but Terror To Love is making a compelling case to be a hot Cup favourite.

Already some of his key rivals have either been lost to the race - Sir Lincoln - or any in danger of being so, like Auckland Reactor. While they have had their dramas, Terror To Love 2012 has looked a superior model to the pacer who came from near last to win the Cup last year. He has trialled brilliantly, then was an easy fresh-up winner at Addington over many of the main Cup chances. And he lost nothing in defeat when beaten by Gold Ace at Addington last Friday, only just going down to the passing lane horse after he has been forced to sit parked.

Terror To Love has the manners, the speed and the stamina and could well dominate on Monday, with few of his rivals good enough or brave enough to try and hold him out if driver Ricky May goes looking for the lead in the middle stages.

Gold Ace is back emerging as the big danger to his old arch rival but as good as he was winning last start, Terror To Love’s performance was at least two lengths superior.
 Gold Ace will continue to improve though and did win the Harness Jewels over Terror To Love here last year, although much has changed for them since.

The newcomer to the really serious open class stuff is Fly Like An Eagle, who continued his stunning winter form by overcoming an early break in the Methven Cup last start. This is a step up in grade again but he is now looming as trainer Mark Purdon’s best Cup chance and if he could win on Monday he would move into second favouritism for the Cup.

Sushi Sushi cost himself by pulling too hard at Addington last start but looks suited to Ashburton while the two Francos - Emirate and Ledger - are back after missing Addington last week. Add to that mix the rugged staying qualities and manners of Highview Tommy from the ace, former Flying Stakes placegetter Pembrook Benny and likely improver Jarcullembra and the race is a superb Cup build-up.

But for all the class of his opponents, it is hard to go past Terror To Love and envisage any other scenario than him still being the NZ Cup favourite once the dust settles on Monday night.

Michael Guerin selects: Terror To Love, Gold Ace, Fly Like An Eagle, Pembrook Benny