Nicholas Cage upstages hotpots in Founders Cup
By Michael Guerin
Nicholas Cage may have staked a late and very unlikely claim for a spot in the $1million Race by Grins with his upset Founders Cup win at Alexandra Park on Friday.
But even if he doesn’t make it to our richest race his performance to defeat Akuta and Copy That suggests he will be in open class before long.
The four-year-old easily held the lead in the 1700m mobile and after a soft opening section he cruised his last 800m in 55 seconds, the last 400m in 28.1 to win by two and a quarter lengths from Akuta, who sat parked from the 800m, with Copy That charging late into third.
It was the sixth win in 11 starts for Nicholas Cage and co-trainer Lyn Neal says the ultimately luckless trip to Addington for the NZ Derby has been the making of the son of Art Major.
“He has come back so much better and stronger,” says Neal, who trains the gelding with husband Andrew.
“He still has his tricks, he has a real attitude, but his dam Helena Jet was apparently like that too.
“But he makes up for it with his talent.”
While Nicholas Cage stepping up to $1million company would have seemed a stretch a few months ago, all of a sudden it doesn’t look that strange.
After all, he has beaten two of the best pacers in the country and while Akuta and Copy That went back early from their draws, no matter what their tactics they would have struggled to beat Nicholas Cage in a 1:53.6 mile rate up against the markers.
More importantly one of Nicholas Cage’s owners Grant Eynon is a slot holder in The Race so it wouldn’t be impossible to see him wanting to chance his arm with his own horse rather than doing a deal for the pacer’s left who may ultimately be no better.
“If Grant wanted to consider that of course we would discuss and try and work out what was best for the horse and just how fast he is getting there,” says Lyn Neal.
“So far we have been trying to protect him a bit but we know he is going to end up in open class this year any way.
“So I suppose we will see how the next two weeks unfold.”
While beaten Akuta was solid in second and looked big and round before the race while Copy That pleased trainer Ray Greem with his strong late burst into third.
Earlier in the night the Temporale Enjoy Retirement Trot was appropriately won by Special Way, trained by the Wallis/Hackett stable who trained Temporale for the last few years, beating Double Delight who was trained and driven by Temporale’s original trainer Tony Herlihy.