Akuta returns to Alexandra Park
by Michael Guerin
New Zealand’s best pacer has been handed an almost ideal return to the scene of his greatest win on Sunday.
Akuta returns to Alexandra Park for the first time since winning the Auckland Cup in May and will be a hot favourite for the $60,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup at the twilight meeting.
Akuta hasn’t raced since being surprisingly beaten in the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on November 17 and was originally scheduled to race at Invercargill last Friday.
But he instead comes north for one race before jumping on a plane to Australia on January 10 for his first campaign there.
While he faces a 30m backmark in Sunday’s Cup over 2700m his only two proven open class rivals, Allamericanlover and Old Town Road, are both off 15m handicaps, while most of the front line horses are more proven in the intermediate grade rather than being open class regulars.
Also on that 15m mark is Akuta’s stablemate Don’t Stop Dreaming who is stepping into open class on his last day as a three-year-old before he joins Akuta on his Australian trip.
The night’s open class trot, the $50,000 Majestic Floats Greenlane Cup pits defending champion Resolve against her last-start conqueror in Dream Of You.
In a rarity one of the highlights of the meeting will be the $50,000 Box Seat Trot Final, which while only for R41-58 trotters has drawn 17 acceptors, a rare chance for the No.17 saddlecloth to get dusted off at Alexandra Park.