Locals eyeing up honours in Wyndham Cup

By Jonny Turner

The MLT Wyndham Cup is far from just another race for two local lads who would love to etch their name in its history books.

Trainers Craig Ferguson and Regan Todd will step out two runners in the 3200m feature on the track where their successful careers began.

Ferguson made the recent Southland Harness Racing Awards his own thanks to a series of feature race wins.

Though the Wyndham Cup doesn’t carry the Group race status that some of his recent success has come in, it rates right at the top of the trainer-driver’s list of races he’d dearly love to win.

“Being a Wyndham local it is a race I would love to win, I have driven the winner of it before but to train one too would be a big thrill,” Ferguson said.

Da Vinci must overcome a 30m handicap if he is to win the Wyndham Cup. He's currently the second favourite on the fixed odds at $3.60, with Pinseeker at $3.20.

With the way the horse has been beginning in his standing start races, he should give himself a chance to do just that.

“He has been going really good and his work along with that has been getting better as well,” Ferguson said.

“I have been really happy with him and hopefully he can keep going as good as he has been.”

Regan Todd treks south from Canterbury to line up Play Philly in Saturday’s feature. A last start winner at Rangiora she was at a $51 quote on Friday while trainer Ricky Gutsell adds to the local flavour with Hacksaw Ridge, to be driven by Nathan Williamson.

Ferguson starts Louies Girl for the first time since a Group 1 placing at Addington in Saturday’s Macca Lodge/Nevele R Stud Southern Oaks heat (1.28pm).

With just one trial under her belt, the three-year-old is sure to improve, but Ferguson feels she is ready to be highly competitive.

“She has trialled nicely, we have probably gotten to this race a little bit earlier than we would have liked.”

“But to line up in the last two heats of the series, she needs to be here.”

“She is working well enough to go a nice race and she has got the speed to be getting over top of them.”

“The small field should help her, too.”

Cochise will have his first start for the Ferguson barn in Saturday’s opener, the Marshall's Excavating Ltd/Wyndham Workouts Trot (11.45am).

After a trial win on the track, the trotter is set to start favourite on debut.

“He did it nice enough and his work since that run has been nice.”

“The only question is that he is a trotter and a first starter, so it will depend on how he handles his first time at the races.”

Netherton Franco ($4.80FF) steps up in grade for the Ferguson barn in race 9. Appropriatey it's the Craig Ferguson Stables Mobile Pace (3.17pm).

Though she takes on better opposition than she has recently, she does so with her work on the up.

“She has always shown at home that she has the ability, but a couple of times there I have thought she might have gone a little bit better.”

“She does seem, at this stage, to have turned the corner.”

“Her win at Cromwell was good, she was waiting on them up the straight.”

“I think from the draw, she is a player.”

Ferguson takes several outside drives at Wyndham with Robyns Hustler looking a cheeky hope on the back of a handy last start fifth.

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Racing journalist Jonny Turner gives his take on which horses look well placed to show their best on Wyndham Cup Day at Young Quinn Raceway on Saturday.

Franco Ezra

Race patterns could put Franco Ezra in the perfect spot in the Kindergarten Stakes Prelude. There is risk about the Stonewall Stud pacer who made a complete hash of his debut at Ascot Park recently. But Franco Ezra put it all together in a recent workout at Winton, showing off his handy motor in the process. The two-year-old looks a big chance of settling in front, or at least a few lengths ahead of the favourite Always Dreaming. Though Always Dreaming deserves top billing and is arguably the best horse in the race at this stage, barrier 7 could set up a tricky task for him. Considering the difference between the win prices they are likely to start at, Franco Ezra looks a strong value option.

Dont Ask

This mare has shown she is in the zone in her last two starts, producing a big win at Cromwell and an arguably bigger second placing at Ascot Park. Dont Ask was only nabbed late by Sally Lindenny in their latest outings after sitting parked for much of the race, with both horses looking serious winning threats at Wyndham. The advantage Dont Ask has this week is that she meets the victor 10m better off, compared to their handicaps at Ascot Park. The risk around Dont Ask in the past has been she has been a little inconsistent at times, but after putting two excellent runs together, now might be the time to put some more faith in her.

Dawson

There has been talk about Dawson’s potential from the moment he hit the trials track and so far, he has lived up to expectations. The three-year-old faces a new kind of challenge on Saturday when stepping up to race hardy, older horses in the grades. And Dawson looks well up for it. Barrier 5 looks workable for the smart pacer and he should take plenty of holding out, especially considering a couple of his main rivals have drawn wider on the front line, or on the second row.

Brookies Player

His formline might suggest punters enter with caution, but that may only mean there is some value about the gritty pacer. The five-year-old got too far back in his last start at Ascot Park and couldn’t make ground, but there was nothing wrong with his effort. On Saturday, Brookies Player will start from inside barrier 7 in a mobile race for the first time since December. The pacer has consistently started from either the second row or wide on the front line while also mixing it better standing start races. Back into a workable grade and from barrier 4, Brookies Player looks a serious winning threat on Saturday.

Louretta

Moving off the unruly and into a winnable race looks a key scenario for Louretta on Saturday. The filly comes south after strong efforts in Canterbury while effectively giving her rivals a head-start. Of course, Louretta has been on the unruly for a reason and she has made mistakes in her short career so far. But trainer Regan Todd wouldn’t be taking the mare off the unruly position if he didn’t see improvement in her manners.From barrier 5, expect Louretta to land handy to the pace and be within striking distance on the home turn.

 

 

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