Phelan eyes Taranaki Cup

By Duane Ranger
Scott Phelan would love to win his first South Taranaki Hawera Country Cup on Easter Monday, but he knows the man who has virtually made the race his own, is going to be tough to beat again.
“Sweet Art is probably the best of Steve (Telfer) and Chris (Garlick’s) going around the country circuit at the moment and it would be great to nail a Hawera Cup.
“But Tony’s horse and Arna’s back marker are going to be the toughest for our mare to beat. I think they are the two stand-outs,” Phelan said.
Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trains and drives likely pacemaker Darcy (1), while Arna Donnelly is the trainer/driver of Ideal Success (11, 40m), who already has won Morrinsville, Thames, Stratford, and Franklin Country Cups this season.
The Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Three Jewels won the Hawera Cup last year and the year before that they also nailed it with Delight Brigade.
But the race has been a Herlihy benefit since its Country Cups inception in 2006.
‘The Iceman’ trained and drove  Bettor Dream to win the 2012 Hawera Cup, Swift Therapy to win the 2011 edition of the race; the 2009 Cup with Ohoka Dallas, and the 2008 Hawera Cup with Costalot.
Sweet Art finished a half head second behind track specialist Beckinsale in the Cup Prelude C3 and faster pace on the first day.
Beckinsale and Dylan Ferguson (j) won last year’s North Island Country Cup Final on the track.
This time he paced 2100m standing start event off the front in 2:46.5 (mile rate 2:07.5) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 62.1 and 27.4.
Sweet Art went around to the lead from her 10m handicap down the back straight the last time and hung on tenaciously only to be beaten right on the line.
“She has won off the pace before but she’s the type of horse who likes to be driven handy. On that run I think she’s a real good chance tomorrow (Monday). She will be better for that first look at the track.
“I like her a lot. Definitely my best drive of the day,” 32-year-old Phelan said.
Both Ideal Success and Darcee will be having their first starts on the 1600m Hawera grass track.  They are yet to win over tomorrow’s 3000m standing start distance, but Sweet Art has a one from one record.
Beckinsale has now won two of his five starts at Hawera and placed in one other.  He has a 6-1-2 record over the distance.
He unwound brilliantly to notch up his 10th career win in 83 starts but his winning mile rate was 4.7 seconds slower than the Brendan Towers trained Righteous Royale in the $8000 Murray Bros C1 Pace.
In fact Righteous Royal’s winning mile rate of 2:02.8 for the 2000m mobile (2;32.7) was the fastest of the day.
“She’s a nice mare who has had a few problems and Brendan has seemed to iron them out well. I really liked the way she sprinted on Saturday. She put paid to them quite easily,” Phelan said of the 5-year-old mare’s half-length victory.
Righteous Royale will be attempting to notch up career win number five from start 21 when she lines up from the nice two draw in the race before the Hawera Cup – the $8000 Christian Cullen Mobile for C2 to C4 pacers.