Belle Of Montana set to return
By Michael Guerin
Belle Of Montana is ready for her comeback to racing next week even after a scary incident at last Saturday’s workouts.
And she is looking increasingly likely to get two lead-up races at Alexandra Park before trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan decide whether she tackles the IRT New Zealand Cup.
Belle Of Montana started in a six-horse workout won by Cruzee Mach at Pukekohe last Friday but galloped at the 400m mark and tailed off, causing disruption for those back in the field including Copy That.
With Belle Of Montana coming back from a leg injury that ended her season last year the last thing Purdon wanted to see was those legs placed under the pressure of a gallop at full speed but the wonderful mare has taken no harm from the incident.
“It was probably the last thing she needed but she is fine,” said Purdon.“We don’t really know what happened, Zac (Butcher, driver) said she might have just lost her footing.
“But she pulled up fine and I worked her Tuesday morning myself and she felt good. So we are excited to get her back to the races next week.”
The Spring Cup is set to be held on Friday week with the Holmes D G programmed for two weeks later and Alexandra Park officials have suggested they will hold the race with a minimum of six starters.
That won’t be an issue next week, with the six who trialled last Saturday (Cruzee Mach, Bad To The Bone, Christianshavtime, Copy That, Dance Time and Belle Of Montana) having the potential to be joined by Mach’s Back, Rough And Ready and Purdon suggesting if Major Jellis performs well at Cambridge this Thursday he could start.
That would give the field a very respectable nine starters, especially considering there are four northern Cup contenders starting at Addington this Friday and would seem to scrap for now the suggestion we need one pool of open class horses racing together pre Christmas.
The two sets of open class racing with the horses meeting up for the Flying Stakes, Kaikoura and the New Zealand Cup still looks the best, fairest and most cost effective early spring programme, with the reality being if all the northern open class horses were in the south some wouldn’t actually get a start in the major lead-up races anyway.
“That is what we want, two races in the north for both her and Bad To The Bone and then they can both head to Kaikoura,” said Purdon.
“By then we will know where we stand for the Cup.”
With Steve Telfer suggesting he would rather stay north for the same races there should be enough horses to get both races off the ground, with Copy That’s trainer Ray Green the one most likely to head south after the Spring Cup to defend his Flying Stakes title at Ashburton.
Purdon is also pleased with how young guns Montana D J and Major Perry are coming up after they both trialled last Saturday and while he had considered sending Major Perry to Australia for the Breeders Crown they are now more likely to trial next week and then resume at Cambridge on October 14.
Purdon says while Bad To The Bone is among the initial entries for the Inter Dominions which closed on Monday he is by no means certain to head to the series, a decision to not be made until after the New Zealand Cup meeting.