Greg Sugars grabs Rowe Cup - Auckland Cup double at Alexandra Park

By Michael Guerin 

Greg Sugars leaned into his old mate Just Believe and said thanks.

“That is two Cups you won us tonight,” said Sugars.

Dripping wet on a freezing Auckland night the newly-crowned Reharvest Rowe Cup hero was more interested in being scraped down, towelled dry and a drink than what the boss had to say.

But Sugars wanted to thank his stable star for helping he and wife Jess Tubbs (the trainer) win two Group 1 Cups at Alexandra Park in 35 minutes.

Just the race before Just Believe completed the perfect autumn with his effortless Rowe romp, his stablemate Better Eclipse had come from second last to capture the $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup.

The win was deserved as Better Eclipse had been unlucky almost every start in two straight New Zealand campaigns but he wouldn’t have even been at Alexandra Park on Friday night if it wasn’t for Just Believe.

“Better Eclipse only stayed on for the Auckland Cup because Harry (Just Believe) stayed for the Rowe,” explains Sugars.

“If Harry had gone home a few weeks ago Better Eclipse would have gone with him.

“But the Rowe Cup was too good to miss and therefore Better Eclipse got his chance too.

“So now we win two Cups in an hour and this would be up with the most satisfying nights in my career.

“Being an Australian winning races like Inter Dominions are obviously very special but to come across here and win these historic races, we know how hard that is to do.”

Better Eclipse didn’t actually get better luck than usual it is just most of his rivals in this Cup, shorn of Merlin and Don’t Stop Dreaming, weren’t good enough to hold him out this time.

In a mixed quality Auckland Cup he was the best of the swoopers, overpowering Self Assured late to deny him the fairytale final race, with Republican Party third and Mach Shard the hard luck story of the race after galloping at the 450m.

“That is him, he needs that bit of luck at this level but tonight he had no bad luck,” says Sugars of Better Eclipse.

“We are thrilled, this is an Auckland Cup, that is a race not many Australian trainers think about winning.”

The Sugars and Tubbs' double is unique, winning two Group 1, 3200m Cups on the same night but the enormity of it was hardly matched by any drama in the Rowe Cup.

Just Believe stepped away slowly but has earned such respect with his three earlier wins on this trip when Sugars launched him there was no resistance and he strode to the front.

The engravers could have safely gone to work putting his name on the Rowe Cup two laps from home.

Oscar Bonavena was better than at any time during this campaign in second but it is hard to believe he or any of the Kiwis can threaten Just Believe by November so Sugars and Tubbs will at least discuss popping back across the Tasman for the Dominion.

“Winning his third Inter is the main priority but there is no reason he couldn’t do both,” says Sugars.

“It might depend on flights and whether Addington can help out but we’d love to come back.”

Harry and Larry (Leap To Fame) would be some one-two promotional punch for Cup, something to fan a Trans Tasman harness racing rivalry which had all but died a few years ago but has leapt back to life in the last six months.

But dream teams coming to Cup week is a goal for another day.

Because Better Eclipse, Just Believe, Greg Sugars and Jess Tubbs didn’t need any help.

They came, saw and conquered Alexandra Park all by themselves.

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