Mexicana returns after Australian Group One success
By Michael Guerin
One of New Zealand racing’s most unheralded group one winners returns at Alexandra Park tonight to start a campaign that could see her get the recognition she deserves.
Mexicana resumes in a strong three-year-old trot race to start tonight’s Alexandra Park meeting, her first start since Melton in Victoria in November, and faces a tricky assignment tonight off a 20m handicap over 2200m.
Making that even more complicated is that Mexicana meets a race hardened rival like Son Of Patrick who has been cleaning up older opponents at Cambridge as well as giving some talented types getting that 20m start.
There is no doubting her ability as Mexicana was good enough to beat older trotters at Alexandra Park twice in October, both times with faultless manners and a high cruising speed.
After that she headed to Victoria where she won one of harness racing’s more unusual group ones, the A$50,000 Redwood at Maryborough, a standing start 2190m trot for two-year-olds.
Even though that was only four months ago she as a two-year-old in Australia but three here, with the Australian season now based on the calendar year whereas the New Zealand harness season still runs August to July.
As odd as the conditions of the Redwood were and Mexicana’s yo-yoing age status is, she is still clearly a good filly but trainer-driver Josh Dickie admits she might be vulnerable tonight.
“She has only had one workout so she will have improvement in her,” says Dickie.
“But she has great manners and that should help with the handicap. But it looks a very handy and even bunch of three-year-old trotters this season, both here and down south.
“I think there are six or eight horses who could win the major three-year-old trots at the moment.” The next of those group race trots is the New Zealand Oaks at Addington in two weeks, for which Mexicana is on trial tonight.
So much tonight will depend on the scurry to the first bend tonight, with 2200m standing start races at Alexandra Park the greatest test of young trotter’s manners. If Mexicana steps well and a couple of her rivals gallop (likely) she could be handy enough to win with a lap to go.
But if the front markers step and run hard then both she and Son Of Patrick, who is the one to beat, could be playing catch up for a long way as most in the race have the ability to be five-race winners in their careers.
Dickie was sent Mexicana to train by Canterbury owner Trevor Casey, who has also entrusted him with former Inter Dominion champion Winterfell.
The latter has developed a disdain for left-handed racing that means he is better off racing in the north and Dickie is aiming him at the Anzac Cup and Rowe Cups next month.
“He had a workout for us last week and was really good and seems a happy horse at the moment,” he explains.
“It is great to be given a chance with a horse like him and we are going to avoid temptation with him and just stick to the right-handed racing at this stage.” Dickie takes another open classer to Alexandra Park tonight in Kay Cee, who faces a daunting task off 50m over 2200m in the main trot but he believes the six-year-old can still win.
“Obviously it won’t be easy but there is only one on the front line and he does step well so if he can catch the body of the field he still has a chance.”
Dickie, who celebrates his birthday this weekend, has been in fine form in the sulky, reining Mr Kaplan to a group two win at Alexandra Park last Friday as well as finishing second in the Northern Oaks as he continues his progression up the northern ranks as both a trainer and driver.