Five key talking points in the week ahead
By Michael Guerin
With Cup week just around the corner things have got awfully serious so here are the races that can and almost certainly will have an impact on how we all view Cup week. This week, let’s go chronologically:
1: Dunstan Handicap, Cambridge R7 Friday: Oh how things have changed for Copy That in a few weeks.
After running unplaced in three of four starts in Victoria he was back to his old self winning off 55m at Alexandra Park last Friday. He goes back to a mammoth 70m at Cambridge but the race is 500m longer and the field weaker, with the key being whether Hot And Treacherous can stay in front of him. If he wins off 70m he may well start NZ Cup favourite. Yep, that is odd.
2: Len Smith Mile, 11.35pm NZ time, Menangle on Saturday: Majestic Cruiser was good fresh up when fifth but goes into a group one over a distance shorter than his best and has drawn the ace, which could prove to be less than ideal. Very challenging lead-up and both how he performs and whether they confirm they are going will be interesting, especially to those on the cusp of making the field.
3: IRT South Bay Trotters Cup, Kaikoura R7 Monday: A good field but the two huge question horses are both part of trotting’s big three. Firstly, Sundees Son who is starting to feel his old legs but can still trot wicked times after he gallops (two from two this prep). If he comes out and behaves and goes great then the Dominion three-peat is on but Kaikoura is anything but his favourite track. The other one of the big three is Bolt For Brilliance, who has only had one start back, had to travel south and starts off a back mark in a better than expected field. If he wins this then he deserves to be Dominion favourite but is a huge test.
4: Alabar Kaikoura Cup, 4.40pm Monday: The most obvious but perhaps already answered question is if Akuta wins will be sneak back into the IRT NZ Cup picture? Or where else might he go, the Junior Free-For-All? The NZ Free-For-All on the Friday? But from his draw he will still have to get around Kango (1), The Falcon (3), Methven Cup winner Smiffy’s Terror (2), Allamericanlover (5) and Pembrook Playboy (9). If this is the traditional step-and-run Kaikoura Cup that is going to be a massive ask.
5: The Cup Trial, Addington on Wednesday: I know it isn’t a race but it takes on the importance of one, particularly after what we saw at Ashburton last Monday. Will Self Assured go to the Cup trial and will he look more alive than the sluggish one we saw in the Flying Stakes? Will Rock N Roll Doo go to the trial and will he step better? Could be a market impacter in a confused time.