Country Cups implications in tonight's Bay of Plenty Cup

By Michael Guerin

Our two most successful ever drivers find themselves in almost identical situations as trainers going into the main pace at Cambridge tonight.

Tony Herlihy and Maurice McKendry train two of the best pacers in the $25,000 Dunstan Horsefeeds Bay Of Plenty Cup, the latest leg of the Country Cups Championships.

Herlihy trains Dontstopmenow while McKendry only has two horses in work, one being last week’s Alexandra Park winner A Trophy Wife, the other tonight’s Cup contender Miki Shan.

Miki Shan and Dontstopmenow have seen plenty of each other before, clashing three times in 25 days through November and December, providing the quinella in two of those races which were very similar to tonight.

They come into tonight’s race short on race fitness but both need to start to be eligible for the Country Cups Championships.

There is a $40,000 final in the north in late April and the $110,000 National Final at Addington on May 10.

“That would be the first real target,” sauys McKendry of the northern final.

“Then after that we could decide if he was going well enough to go to Addington for the big final.

“He is a good horse and getting better. He has good manners and is a stayer and he we went okay at the trials three weeks ago.

“He was going to have a run at Alexandra Park last week but the race got canned so he will improve with this week’s run.”

Herlihy thinks the same of Dontstopmenow, who also needs to start tonight to be eligible for the finals as the only other qualifying race is at Palmerston North next week and neither trainer is keen to take this pair there.

“He is a good horse who can race in the final up here after qualifying this week and then we will see about Addington,” says Herlihy.

“But these can be tricky races to win fresh up so a lot will depend on how it is run.”

With the two smart pacers both on the 20m mark and short of their best the race opens up to something else winning what is an odd mix of Hawera, Cambridge and Alexandra Park form so is as open as it gets.

Tonight’s other feature sees the trotters have their next leg of their Country Cups for a $20,000 stake and it looks just as open.

Sacred Mountain has the best form but a 40m handicap in a big field over 2200m could prove a nightmare recipe for punters and a better betting proposition could be the untapped Joca’s Hill.

He was cruising when he galloped in a lower grade race last week and while still very much a work in progress if he behaves he looks suited by the conditions.

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