An Aussie's look on Cup Day

by Adam Hamilton

In 26 visits to New Zealand Cup Day, Arden Rooney’s historic win stands alone as the one I treasure most, but gee yesterday came close.

The whole package of Australia’s trailblazer Kerryn Manning becoming the first female to drive an NZ Cup winner in 2015 and doing it just a week after Michelle Payne was the first female jockey to win a Melbourne Cup. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

But a 24-year-old dream came true for Geelong businessman Danny Zavitsanos when the Aussie owner won the NZ Cup with Cruz Bromac.

“It was Golden Reign winning here all those years ago (1995 Christchurch Inter Dominion) that first got me following the trots, now I’m here winning an NZ Cup myself,” Zavitsanos said.

And Zavitsanos is a passionate and hugely important player in the game, on both sides of the ditch.

Sitting next to him on the flight from Melbourne to Christchurch late on Cup Eve, he was oozing passion and daring to dream.

Fast-forward less than 24 hours and the dream was reality.

“I thought he was unlucky not to win this race last year, but a year older and a year more mature and he’s back here winning it,” Zavitsanos said.

History will say Cruz Bromac won the Cup as a Kiwi given he’s trained by the All Stars’, but every bit as much a win for Australia, with a dash of magic from Mark Purdon, Natalie Rasmussen and Blair Orange.

“We sent him back to Mark and Natalie a few weeks back to try and win this race. They’re the best for a reason,” Zavitsanos said. “But credit goes to Amanda (Grieve) and Dean (Braun), who did such a good job getting him ready back home (Victoria).”

Cruz Bromac looks set to back-up in the Group 1 NZ free-for-all on Friday then it’s up to Auckland for the Inter Dominion.

And Zavitsanos has a scary warning for Auckland: “He’s never raced that direction, but they think he goes better because he doesn’t get on himself like he does this direction.”

Cruz Bromac’s win capped a day of huge Aussie influence.

It certainly didn’t surprise any Aussies to see Tough Monarch and McLovin run the quinella in the Group 1 NZ Trotting free-for-all.

And Aussie-owned pair Copy That (Merv and Meg Butterworth) and Line Up (Emilio and Mary Rosati) ran second and third respectively to the All Stars’ One Change in the Group 1 3YO Sires’ final.

Tough Monarch and McLovin will back-up in Friday’s Group 1 Dominion Trot, albeit stepping-up in grade again to face NZ’s two best trotters Oscar Bonavena and Marcoola.

The Aussie raid then stretches to the Auckland Inter Dominion from November 29 where Tough Monarch and now maybe McLovin as well will be our trotting hopefuls.

Our best Inter Dominion pacing hopes look to be Bling It On and Colt Thirty One and I’m not writing off San Carlo after he missed the start and never looked happy in the NZ Cup yesterday.

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