Handicaps add intrigue to historic Invercargill Cup

By Jonny Turner

It’s the Melbourne Cup – but Invercargill style.

The countdown to Southland’s first-ever Group One race of any code ramped up a notch with a stellar line up being confirmed for Saturday’s Invercargill Cup.

Handicap conditions are part of the mystique and intrigue of any Melbourne Cup build up and they have added a vital layer for punters to assess ahead of Ascot Park’s massive day on Saturday.

B D Joe, Self Assured, Spankem and Krug come into the Invercargill Cup after filling the first four placings in the Group Three Summer Cup at Addington on Grand Prix Day.

Ironically, handicaps in that race – in the form of preferential barrier draws – mattered little.

B D Joe settled behind Self Assured and Spankem despite drawing inside of the All Stars pairing.

But it mattered little when B D Joe produced a brilliant winning effort, arguably his best in the open class arena.

Self Assured (20m) Spankem (20m) don’t just have to turn the tables on B D Joe (10m) on Saturday, they have to overcome giving him a 10m head-start to do so.

Logically, it’s a huge ask but regular logic doesn’t always apply to the all-conquering All Stars Stables.

Their Summer Cup runs are sure to have brought Self Assured and Spankem on after they had an easy time following the New Zealand Cup Carnival.

Then again, B D Joe is bound to strip fitter, too.

In their favour, the All Stars pairing bring a clearly superior 3200m record to the Invercargill Cup.

Though not a noted two-miler, Spankem has placed in five Auckland and New Zealand Cups.

As a two-time Auckland Cup winner and a New Zealand Cup winner, Self Assured’s 3200m speaks for itself.

B D Joe has had just one try at the trip, finishing a creditable 8th after holding out the three-wide line from the parked position in this year’s New Zealand Cup.

While B D Joe, Self Assured and Spankem are set to dominate Invercargill Cup betting, the race’s winning chances don’t end with them.

Krug flashed late in one of his best performances of the spring in his Summer Cup fourth.

The Cran and Chrissie Dalgety trained pacer seems to have put his standing start woes behind him which bodes given he gets the same 10m head start B D Joe gets on the All Stars team.

Sand Wave and Macandrew Navigator head a strong Southland contingent hoping to head off Canterbury’s open class stars.

Sand Wave showed all of the courage needed to handle 3200m racing with his brave third in the New Zealand Derby.

After being left hung out three wide by Akuta, the Nathan Williamson trained pacer kept fighting on in an excellent performance.

Macandrew Aviator has footed it with New Zealand’s best pacers through the spring and summer, often racing without luck.

Another looking well suited to 3200m racing, the pacer gets the huge advantage of starting from the front line.

Trainer Kirstin Green gave the Invercargill Harness Racing Club outstanding insight into her horse’s preparation this week.

To check out footage of Macandrew Aviator’s track work click here  

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