Negus has faith in his rising star
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Bruce Negus has big plans for Corravalley Star and they will all begin at Ashburton Raceway on Saturday.
The four-year-old entire will face his stiffest task to date when he takes on a star-studded line-up in the Ashburton Trotting Club Legends Mile (1609m), but Negus believes he is up to the task.
On paper, the son of Washington VC looks to be outclassed, being 30 rating points inferior to his closest rival, while Spankem’s rating of 119 is nearly twice that of Corravalley Star.
But races aren’t won on paper and Negus believes Saturday will be a good building block for his horse’s future, which ideally includes a tilt at the Gr.1 New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) later this year.
“There are a lot of stars in there (on Saturday), and he wouldn’t be regarded as one as yet, but if he were to finish in the first three he will certainly fulfill the promise that he has always had,” Negus said.
Negus was buoyed by his eye-catching last start runner-up effort behind dual Group One winner Akuta at Nelson last month.
“His run at Nelson was outstanding,” Negus said.
“If Akuta was in it (Saturday’s race) I don’t think he would be any worse than second favourite.
“I think we went as good as him at Nelson. We were pretty powerful at the finish at Nelson and that is after backing up after two days in a two mile.
“We are pretty happy with him.”
Corravalley Star subsequently finished third in a 2600m trial last week, giving Negus the confidence to press on to the mile feature at Ashburton this weekend.
“He hadn’t had a fast run since Nelson and we think he has improved significantly since then and he will have to, they might go 1:50,” he said.
“It is going to definitely be a lot harder, but we feel as though he is on an improving trajectory, what the Washington VCs are known for.
“We don’t know where that will stop, but he has definitely improved.”
Corravalley Star will start from gate one on Saturday and Negus said that was a major influence in targeting the race.
“This mile race came along at the right time because he was always going to draw one,” Negus said.
“The barrier draw over a mile, when they go as fast as they will go, is going to be a big advantage. He won’t have to do any work from that draw.
“He could be three or four back, there is a lot of speed outside him. While our horse does have good gate speed, we think because they have got all their credentials and he has still got to earn his, we don’t want to be finding out that he can’t rush early.
“He is very good at following speed.”
While the Country Cups Final is currently Corravalley Star’s main target this autumn, that could all change if he were to impress this weekend.
“Our goal is the New Zealand Cup, but in the meantime the Country Cups Final is our immediate target,” Negus said.
“But if he were to go really well (on Saturday) that might change a few things.
“He is very good the Auckland way around, and the Messenger and Taylor Mile are not on his radar, but if he were to look like he would be competitive, he may go yet. That would mean the Country Cup wouldn’t be on.”