Gath's Kiwi game plan
By Adam Hamilton
ANDY Gath can’t wait to get back to New Zealand.
And he genuinely thinks his emerging trotter McLovin can match it with the Kiwi stars in the two big trotting races of NZ Cup Week.
“He’s come back really well and I love travelling and being part of the big races if I think I’ve got the right horse. I think McLovin in the right horse,” Gath said.
The last time Gath won a major trotting race in NZ was with brilliant mare La Coocaracha in the 2002 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park.
“She’s the best horse I’ve trained, a genuine champion. It’s just a shame she went amiss in that race and we didn’t get to see more of her in her prime,” Gath reflected.
“McLovin is an exciting trotter. He’s certainly no La Coocaracha, at least not yet anyway, but he’s really impressed us since coming across from NZ.”
McLovin’s had 15 starts for the Gaths and owner Norm Jenkin – who also races Tornado Valley – for 10 wins, two seconds and two thirds.
Gath has long planned this Christchurch campaign and it was cemented when McLovin returned from a spell and overcame a tough and wide run to so impressively win the Group 1 Bill Collins Mile at Melton on October 12.
He won’t race again before the free-for-all at Addington on November 12.
“The only option was to race him against Tornado Valley (this weekend), but we didn’t want to do that,” Gath said. “He doesn’t need a run anyway. We’ll trial him at Melton Tuesday and then keep him up to the mark at home. He’s got Tornado Valley to work with, which helps them both.”
Gath said racing twice in three days at Addington would really suit McLovin.
“He thrives on it. He could run five days in a row, he’s that sort of horse,” he said.
So what about the Kiwis?
“They’re always hard to beat and there’s a couple of realty smart ones over there at the moment, but McLovin is really well and I’m sure he’ll give them something to beat,” he said.
“I’ve never not tackled a race because of the opposition, not even when it’s meant travelling. If you got the right horse then I think you have to back them in.”
Gath is comfortable with his decision not to stay in NZ for the Auckland Inter Dominion.
“I’d love to be part of it, especially after winning the final last year (with Tornado Valley), but Tornado Valley is a bad traveller and McLovin wasn’t at all comfortable when we worked him the Auckland direction at home a few months back,” he said.