Chase Auckland shows toughness in Methven Cup win
By Jonny Turner
All Stars pacer Chase Auckland showed off his staying prowess and got his New Zealand Cup preparation back on track with a tough win in the Methven Cup on Sunday.
Sitting parked on a rain affected track proved no obstacle for the 5yr-old, who wore down his stablemate Ashley Locaz to win the 3000m feature for driver Tim Williams.
Chase Auckland’s winning time showed off just how testing the Methven track was and what a big staying motor he possesses.
The Auckland Reactor gelding produced the slowest winning Methven Cup time in the past decade when he stopped the clock at 4:01.8.
That time is more than 10sec slower than Cruz Bromac’s 3:51.3 effort, last year.
The most impressive part of Chase Auckland’s staying effort for Williams came when the horse reeled off a 28.7sec last 400m and felt strong to the line on the slow rated track.
“I think it showed today that he has got a bit of toughness about him when he is in the zone,” he said.
“To run home in good time for the last 400m on that track, after sitting parked, was a pretty big effort.”
Chase Auckland looked a seasoned open class pacer with his nearly perfect Methven Cup display, after looking like a freshman floundering in the deep end in his last two starts.
The former star 3yr-old’s New Zealand Cup hopes took a dive after he botched the start and then dropped out of the Canterbury Classic, after producing an eye-catching effort marred by another poor start in the Hannon Memorial.
Stepping cleanly and pacing fluently during his win meant Chase Auckland not only boosted his stocks with harness racings fans, he bought some relief to the All Stars camp.
“He needed to do that – I think it has been a mental thing for him at the start,” Williams said.
“So hopefully, he takes a real good bit of confidence from it so when he has to do it again he can get it right again.”
“I think being off the 20m and not having to stand there was a different kettle of fish compared to what he had had the last couple of starts.”
“It was good that he could do it today, because if he couldn’t do it off 20m it would be back to the drawing board.”
Several of the beaten runners produced excellent efforts after giving away a race fitness edge to Chase Auckland, who went in to the Methven Cup with more spring starts than any of his rivals.
Ashley Locaz showed he was a genuine New Zealand Cup hope by producing a fighting second in his second spring start.
Smokin By produced a big effort in his first run of the season to nail Gran Chico on the line for third.
Thefixer showed his New Zealand Cup defence was on target when he finished less than two lengths from Chase Auckland in fifth place.