Manners may be deciding factor in Auckland Cup
By Michael Guerin
The promise that is Self Assured against the proven reality of Thefixer and Cruz Bromac.
That may be the story of tonight’s $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park.
And for all the talent of the trio of stablemates, and their eight other opponents in the 3200m group one, it may be manners that decide the last great race of 2019.
Self Assured is a special horse, maybe the best horse in waiting in tonight’s classic.
He only started racing seven months ago, has barely raced in New Zealand at all and yet is the $1.70 favourite tonight over two New Zealand Cup winners.
The reason is simple. He is all x-factor, his sole two open class starts both leaving no doubt he has the motor for the big time after just nine career starts.
If he steps and behaves himself the four-year-old may have too much speed for his older, more established rivals who have been through a fortnight in the furnace of the Inter Dominions.
But for all his promise, the fact he is the Miracle Mile favourite and his dazzling sectionals, there is one jarring reason to be careful about taking odds-on for Self Assured tonight.
He had two standing starts against the big boys in the spring and missed away slightly in both. Tonight slightly could be costly.
“That is the worry for him,” admits champion trainer and Self Assured’s driver tonight Mark Purdon.
“He has been slow in his two standing starts and while he wasn’t bad away, against these horses it could be the difference.
“He is a really good horse and might still win but if he is slow away and has to give horses like Thefixer a start then it is going to be hard for him.
“So the start will be crucial. He could actually begin well but horses like Thefixer and Cruz Bromac are far more proven than him.”
Both Thefixer and Cruz Bromac were excellent in the Inter Dominion pacing final two weeks ago and if they can work toward the lead and get on the marker pegs a 3:55 time for 3200m is within their capabilities every day of the week.
Whereas Self Assured could pace the same time but might have to do it coming wide. Maybe he can, maybe not yet. But there is no value in taking $1.70 to find out.
Purdon is warming to Thefixer after his luckless but very brave Interdom campaign and he has worked well since while there is no reason Cruz Bromac can’t add this Cup to last month’s New Zealand Cup as he ticks almost all the boxes.
Others like Classie Brigade, Mach Shard and even Chase Auckland could place but winning would surprise.
Purdon is beaming about the work of Oscar Bonavena but realise the young trotter may have to sit parked or be driven off the speed to win tonight’s $100,000 National Trot.
“But it doesn’t bother me driving him with a sit, especially over 2700m.
“He is our best chance and while Winterfell is good his manners haven’t been perfect recently.”
The stables rates One Change as the better chance over Smooth Deal because of the draw in tonight’s $200,000 Sales Series Pace.