Heavyweights square off at Alexandra Park
By Michael Guerin
The heavyweights of the yearling sales ring move their battle to Alexandra Park tonight and the victories could be just as shared.
The major stables of Robert Dunn, Steve Telfer, Cran Dalgety and Ray Green were among the biggest spenders at the yearling sales spread over the last 12 days, while young trainer Hayden Cullen will get plenty of new firepower through buyers formerly with Mark Purdon.
And those same five stables provide many of the winning chances in the richest races as Alexandra Park’s Derby meeting kicks off early than usual, with a strong night tonight and then a boomer hosting six major races next week.
Tonight’s highlight races have an even feel to them with the exception of the Lincoln Farms Founders Mobile which really should fall to Copy That, trained by Lincoln Farms trainer Green.
Copy That may not have raced since beating Self Assured in the Flying Mile at Cambridge early last month but the way he sprinted past most of his rivals tonight in a workout at Pukekohe last week suggests he is fit and ready to win.
Aiding him in the fact maybe his key rival Christianshavtime doesn’t have the natural gates speed to stay in front of him and if Copy That reaches the lead he will win, suggesting his $1.50 opening quote was multi gold.
But before him things are more complicated in the feature races starting with race two, the lead-up to next week’s Woodlands Northern Derby.
Krug may still be the best horse in this crop but not by much and It’s All About Faith is drawn inside him and trainer Cullen expects him to lead and be hard to beat.
“He has improved with his last start win and if he leads it is going to be hard for them to get past him,” says Cullen.
But It’s All About Faith can be hard to trust and American Dealer and the greatly-improved Hot And Treacherous add depth to a race that could be decided by the tempo of the first 600m.
Cullen has also has outstanding filly Bettor Twist in the Peter Breckon Memorial, victory in which would mean the world to her main owners Ken and Karen Breckon, with Peter being Ken’s late brother.
Bettor Twist is a brutal filly who loves a fight and will probably win next Friday’s Oaks but Cullen concedes she will need to go back at the start tonight and possibly come sit parked at the bell, not an easy way to win any group two.
“She is really well and forward enough to win because she has had two workouts but it is not an easy race,” says Cullen.
That is for sure as any one of Enjoy Me, La Rosa, Darling Me or brilliant last start winner Off N Gone could easily break 2:40 for the 2200m and make Bettor Twist work very hard.
John Dunn, who along with his father Robert took home around 16 yearlings from the sales, expects Off N Gone to handle her first start right-handed.
“She should because she has really improved a lot but it is a good field and I can see them going hard,” says Dunn.
Telfer has a huge hand in the race and Enjoy Me has been the other big improver in this crop, winning the Sires’ Stakes on New Years Eve downing Bettor Twist.
She missed a planned start since with a minor injury but impressed at the workouts last week and may still be improving.
Dunn is more confident with Need You Now in the Charles Roberts Stakes (race four) with the high class mare caught parked last start in a national record group one but dropping a long way in grade tonight.