Horsemanship the key
By Jonny Turner
Some good old-fashioned horsemanship could be the key to Beach Ball breaking through at Group One level in the Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup on Friday.
Beach Ball heads south for trainer Brendon Hill after an emphatic Grand Prix Day win in he hands of his now regular driver in Ricky May.
Under Hill and May’s guidance, Beach Ball is in the early stages of turning into a standing start gem after previously being anything but from behind the tapes.
With a 10m advantage of his main rival Self Assured in Southland’s second-ever Group One event, making a strong beginning as he did in the New Zealand Cup will be crucial for Beach Ball.
Hill thinks the key to the horse doing exactly that will be in May’s silky smooth hands.
“I think he's a sort of one trick pony a little bit - as in Ricky's getting an know him now and for a big horse, he's got a really soft mouth.”
“And you've just got to keep off the reins and keep off his mouth and give him his head and he'll step.”
“He'll just keep getting better and better and better with that.”
“ So that 10m advantage on Self Assured will come in handy if we can step.”
Third in the New Zealand Cup and a brilliant Group Three winner next, Beach Ball hasn’t got to improve to win the Invercargill Cup.
Hill reports that the pacer has been ticking over nicely in his work since and there’s no reason the horse won’t front with another excellent performance.
“It won’t be easy, I don't take it for granted.”
“You don’t just travel down there with a $1.80-$1.90 favourite, and just rock up and win.”
“I respect the other horses and this horse has to step and do things right.”
Oscar Bonavena comes into the Group Three Brendan Franks Farrier David Moss Stakes in a similar spot to Beach Ball.
Any harness racing fan should know the squaregaiter has been in special space over the past month, producing the best form of his career and landing two Group One titles in the process.
And like Beach Ball’s trainer Brendon Hill, Mark Purdon has only seen positive signs from the trotting star leading to Ascot Park’s big day.
“I will trained him on Monday and he trained really well, he's just in the zone and he’s come through his races really well so far.”
Alongside Self Assured, the Mark and Nathan Purdon stable start two more serious winning chances on Invercargill Cup Day.
Treacherous Baby looks the horse to beat in Friday’s two-year-old fillies feature while Amore Infida looks a big winning threat in the Canada Stakes.