Methven Cup made for Wild Excuse
By Jonny Turner
Wild Excuse will not simply step quietly in to the big leagues when she starts in the Group 3 Methven Cup on Sunday.
The tough running five-year-old will take on top class open class pacers for the first time when she clashes with New Zealand Cup favourites and 30m backmarkers, Self Assured and Spankem, in the 3000m grass track staying test.
The toughness Wild Excuse is known for was on full display in her last start victory at Addington when she dug deep to fight off Belmont Major and score in a smart time.
On that effort and so many of her prior runs, Sunday’s 3000m grass track test of stamina looks made to order for the mare.
And her driver, Gavin Smith, agrees.
“I think the 3000m will definitely suit and you would imagine the grass would suit,” the reinsman said.
“She won her maiden on the grass, but she was a bit disappointing another time.”
“Whether it was the grass or just that day I am not sure, but you would imagine it would be tailor-made for her.”
“It is not going to be easy with the backmarkers in there, they are class acts.”
“And there are going to be plenty of snipers off the front that are going to close to us, with that big straight at Methven to run you down.”
“But, she will give it her best shot.”
Smith has no plans to change his tactics as Wild Excuse steps up to race top class horses like Self Assured and Spankem.
He will be driving to his mare’s strength – her big staying motor.
“We will make it a war and see who comes out still fighting at the finish.”
A two time winner at the New Zealand Cup Carnival last year, Wild Excuse is a rated on the fringes of open class.
Smith has no doubts the Phil Burrows trained mare will handle the top grade when her rating puts her there permanently in the future.
“She is still pretty inexperienced, but with the times she has run and the work she has done in premier fields that she will measure up when she gets there.”
Wild Excuse starts off the front line, with the third placegetter in last week’s Canterbury Classic, Tango Tara, alongside her.
The pair look to biggest threats to Self Assured and Spankem, who filled the Canterbury Classic quinella.
Smith has a quality book of nine drives at Methven on Sunday, including Terror Maria in race 7.
The Paul Kerr trained four-year-old disappointed in her last two starts in July before being freshened.
Terror Maria showed she was ready to make an impact on her return on Sunday when running second to Matt Damon at the Rangiora workouts on Wednesday.
“I thought her workout was pretty good and that she would be one of my best chances,” Smith said.
Smith is expecting better from Shiffty, when he steps out in his colours in race 2.
“I was a bit disappointed last time, but I blame myself for that.”
“I thought he was a lot readier than he was, he missed a bit of work with a couple of wee issues.”
“I have chucked a bit more work in to him in the last fortnight and he will be a lot better on Sunday and he will be a lot better after another run, too.”
Smith is expecting better from Take After Me, who galloped in his last start at Addington after producing excellent grass track form prior.
“He doesn’t trot as good on the surface at Addington and around the bends.”
“Back on the grass he will be fine, he is always in the money and he is a lovely horse to drive.”
Kusanova (race 8), Just Holla (race 10) and Missy Moo (race 6) each look strong eachway chances for Smith on Sunday, as well.