Christen Me simply sublime

By Michael Guerin

A dramatic last second gear change and a record smashing tempo combined to see Christen Me win a drama filled Auckland Cup last night.

The second favourite nosed out his close relation Adore Me in the $250,000 classic, clipping a full two seconds of Tintin In America’s national 2700m mobile record.

Adore Me looked to have secured the race winning advantage early when she pressed on toward the lead but was surprisingly denied the pacemaking role by Elios, instead settling in the one-one, from where the $1.60 favourite was still the horse to beat.

But she rolled into a brief gallop at the 450m mark, regathering herself but losing just enough momentum for Christen Me to grab her by a nose, with Ohoka Punter a close third.

After the race Adore Me was found to be slightly sore in a hind leg but trainer-driver Mark Purdon said she had felt fine in the running until her mishap.

“It was very unlike her but she seems fine in herself,” said Purdon.

But Christen Me’s win wasn’t without drama either as driver Dexter Dunn was left shaking his head by a poor preliminary.
He called trainer Cran Dalgety over and the pair removed the Murphy Blind, which Christen Me had been fighting in the prelim.

“We obviously rigged his gear up to race right-handed, which he hadn’t done for a long time,” said Dalgety.

“But he didn’t like it at all. We had to rush out and take the blind off before the race because he was running away from it.

“It was hardly ideal but Dexter was cool as a cucumber and that was the key. That and the early speed.

“Once they went that hard we came back into the race and it is a great win to beat that mare and do it three weeks after we had to pull him out of the Interdom.”

Both the winner and runner-up were bred and are part-owned by Aucklander Charles Roberts and the 91-year-old’s acceptance speech almost topped the race for entertainment.

“I want to thank all the people who are helping keep me alive,” he joked.

“And these horses are part of that.”
 Christen Me adds last night’s Cup to the Miracle Mile, Victoria Cup and New Zealand Free-For-All he has already won this summer, posing the question, will he now beat Adore Me for Horse of the Year, which is announced in August?

Add to that his Hunter Cup win from last season and his previous slew of group one successes and he has now surpassed the big race record of his champion sire Christian Cullen.

Dalgety now has a winter decision to make, whether to set Christen Me for the New Zealand Cup in November or aim him at the new Inter Dominion series in Perth, which has a A$1.3million final.

“I don’t think we can do both, and maybe the Inter will be more his go because of his gate speed,” hints Dalgety.

That would mean dodging a Cup clash with Adore Me, but after last night Christen Me leads their personal battle this summer 4-1.