Don't Stop Dreaming draws badly in Hunter Cup
By Adam Hamilton
Hopes of a Kiwi Hunter Cup win weren’t helped by today's barrier draw.
Exciting young Kiwi pacer Don’t Stop Dreaming – the lone NZ-trained raider – will have to come from the back row (gate 10) to upstage some of Australia’s best pacers in Saturday night’s $450,000 feature over 2760m.
“I was hoping for a good draw at his first go against these top horses, but we didn’t get it,” co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon said.
“It’s going to be hard now, especially with Leap To Fame and Catch A Wave drawn so well.”
Miracle Mile winner Catch A Wave has drawn ideally for him in gate two, He will start from one if emergency Cantfindabettorman doesn’t get a run.
Leap To Fame also looks perfectly suited from six and he is also likely to move into five.
“It’s a lot better draw than I’ve had in so many of the big races over the past year or so,” Leap To Fame’s trainer-driver Grant Dixon said. “I’ll certainly take that.
“But I am very wary of Catch A Wave from his draw. He’s so fast and dangerous if he can be saved up to use that speed.
“There’s a good chance he’ll be trailing me and with a soft run he can be so explosive whereas my bloke sort of builds into his speed. I’ll have to be mindful of that.”
The first few hundred metres could be interesting with so much speed drawn in between Catch A Wave and Leap To Fame, including Taipo (three), Curly James (four) and Cya Art (five).
“No doubt they’ll all be jostling to find spots, so it might take me a while to get around them and I may have to do some work to get there,” Dixon said.
“You can’t see any of them crossing Catch A Wave and you’d think he would want to hold them out until I get there.”
Trainer Andy Gath has conceded the long 2760m is beyond Catch A Wave’s perfect distance, which would almost certainly see him happy to take a trail on Leap To Fame.
His best chance would be to try and beat him for speed, not stamina.
Another highlight of Saturday night will be champion trotter Just Believe’s quest to defend his Great Southern Star crown.
The quirk of the race is that it consists of two qualifying heats early in the night into the final two hours later.
Just Believe faces a real test as the lone back row runner (gate nine) in his heat, especially with arch-rival and star Kiwi-owned mare Queen Elida drawn (four).
HUNTER CUP BARRIER DRAW
Front row: Cantfindabettorman (emerg), Catch A Wave, Taipo, Curly James, Cya Art, Leap To Fame, Better Eclipse.
Back row: Max Delight, Spirit Of St Louis, Don’t Stop Dreaming, Beyond Delight, Mach Dan, Kanena Provlima.