Northerners ponder their NZ Cup options
By Michael Guerin
Northern open class racing still looks likely before the IRT New Zealand Cup even if the Spring Cup may be in danger.
The first northern race on the road to the cup is supposed to be the 2200m Spring Cup at Alexandra Park on September 24 but while that may be 50-50 at best to go ahead, most northern trainers with serious Cups contenders have expressed a desire to stay in the north until at least mid October.
But the one big name now all but certain to head south without racing in the north is South Coast Arden.
Trainer Brent Mangos says the big Jewels winner has come to hand nicely but with the Spring Cup looking dodgy for numbers he will instead now aim at the Canterbury Classic at Addington on October 1 as the first of three races down south to be followed by the Cup trial.
“He looks great but I want to get him down there to race in bigger fields and to give him standing start practice starting on a fullish front line,” says Mangos.
“So my plan is to take him down there, trial him and then race the three times before the Cup.” Mangos has also taken South Coast Arden off the unruly for standing starts to try and give him his chance to start on the front line in the Cup.
“I think he will handle stands now and he is more sensible but if it doesn’t work out that way I can always put him back on the unruly.”
While Mangos wants to head south most northern trainers are keen to stay home and race at Alexandra Park, even though the Spring Cup is not certain to go ahead because of Covid, should Auckland remain at Level 4 longer than expected, or more likely because the numbers don’t quite stack up for the race.
Copy That, Belle Of Montana and Christianshavtime are all Cups contenders who won’t be ready for September 24 but their trainers are keen to race at Alexandra Park on October 8.
That raises the logical scenario of the Spring Cup going back to that date so the northern open class horses can race over 2200m fresh up, rather than the 2700m of the Holmes D G programmed that night. If the Spring Cup, or another race over 2200m is held on October 8, it is likely to attract Copy That, Belle Of Montana, Bad To The Bone, Christianshavtime, Mach’s Back, Dance Time, Kango, New York Minute and Taipo, giving it a nine-horse field and a very competitive contest.
The trainers of most of them have also expressed a desire to stay in the north for another race two weeks later, with the most likely one to head south being Copy That who could detour to the Ashburton Flying Stakes.
“He is well and I am keen on a race on October 8 but I don’t see him being ready for the Spring Cup if it is on the 24th,” said trainer Ray Green.
“Then after the first Auckland race he would probably go down to the Flying Stakes like he did last season.”
Arna Donnelly last week expressed her desire to keep her three open classers in the north for at least two runs while Barry Purdon wants to do the same with Bad To The Bone and Belle Of Montana.
“Belle wouldn’t be ready for September 24 but they will both be good to go by October 8,” says Purdon, who trains in partnership with Scott Phelan.
“And then another run in the north would be ideal.”
Trainers Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson say stable star Christianshavtime won’t be ready for the 24th but he will for October 8.
“We will have him and Mach’s Back for that race and I’d like to see the Spring Cup moved to there so we can go fresh up over 2200m,” says Hollis.
Trainer Steve Telfer says he will have Uncut Gems winner Dance Card ready for either race but October 8 suits him well and he would also like to see the first open class race of the northern season, if that is what the October 8 race turns out to be, reduced to 2200m.
Telfer also reports he has Jewels winner B D Joe and Alta Wiseguy being set for a three-year-old race at Alexandra Park on October 8.