Cup calculations endless
By Jonny Turner
The Kaikoura Cup is traditionally the final chance to catapult into the New Zealand Cup field, but a late play from trainer Mark Jones is set to have race organisers scrambling.
Check In did everything he could to force his way into the great race with his second behind Classie Brigade in Monday’s Group 2 Kaikoura Cup.
Under normal circumstances, the Steve and Amanda Telfer trained pacer’s second, after getting a perfect trip in the trail, would produce the biggest rankings bump given he went into the event ranked 18th.
However, Mark Jones is about to give the panel that ranks the field some real thinking to do.
Jones has put in a late nomination for Burnham Boy, which could have a major impact if the selectors think the Southern Supremacy Stakes winner deserves a starting spot.
Jones certainly thinks his horse does and pointed out Burnham Boy has had the measure of some of the top 15 in their previous clashes, after his win at Ascot Park last week.
Many of the Kaikoura cup runners – that included Classie Brigade (2nd) Tango Tara (4th), Henry Hubert (8th) Triple Eight (9th), Ashley Locaz (10th), Heisenberg (12th), Nandolo (13th), On The Cards (16th), Check In (18th) and U May Cullect (23rd) – look assured of a start.
And that is despite Check In beating home six horses ranked above him.
The most certain outcomes from the event look to be On The Cards and U May Cullect now missing a New Zealand Cup starts following their 9th and 10th placings on Monday.
Nandolo looks the most vulnerable of the other Kaikoura starters, despite his good effort for sixth, just over two lengths from the winner.
But his position in the rankings looks a lot more solid than those of Di Caprio (14th) and Vintage Cheddar (15th).
Both could be leapfrogged by both Check In and Burnham Boy and miss Cup starts.
But the pair could easily hold on to their starting spots if the judging panel deem Check In and Burnham Boy’s efforts over the past week do not warrant them top 15 spots.
Outside of Robert and John Dunn and the Classie Brigade camp, no one walked away from the Kaikoura Cup more pleased than Steve and Amanda Telfer.
Check In gave himself a massive chance of starting in the New Zealand Cup with his second and Triple Eight went his best race since September when fourth, just over a length from the winner.
“It will be what it is with Check In, it is just good to have him back going well again,” Steve Telfer said.
“He has got good manners and he won’t disgrace himself if he gets in.”
“He is that type of horse – he steps and puts himself in a good position and you rely on luck from there.”
Triple Eight’s New Zealand Cup prospects looked bleak following his prior two starts at Alexandra Park.
But the pacer looked more like the horse that ran third in last season’s Interdominion Pacing Final and Auckland Cup with his close up fourth on Monday.
“He went really well first up, but I think the run flattened him,” Telfer said.
“Then he has just been so-so in his next runs.”
“But we did some more testing and we found some areas to improve on, so we worked on them for a couple of weeks.”
“He went to the trials last week and he was quite good.”
“Obviously he is a lot more like himself and he should get a lot of benefit from today’s run.”
The permutations for the Dominion following the group 3 South Bay Trotters’ Cup look a little more simple than the Kaikoura Cup.
Majestic Lavros, ranked 21st, has a fighting chance of getting a start in the 3200m feature with his win in Monday’s feature.
Midnight Dash should get a slight bump up from 22nd with his third placing.
Destiny Jones could freefall from 9th out of the top 15 after weakening from the 700m.
The mare was found to have been suffering from a respiratory condition.
The New Zealand Cup field will be finalised on Wednesday.
Spots in the Dominion are still up for grabs in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup Day.