NZ Cup-bound Kango impresses again
By Michael Guerin
For trainer Arna Donnelly this New Zealand Cup campaign feels different.
Because this time she feels like Kango belongs in the IRT New Zealand Cup before he heads south.
The huge pacer is being aimed at his second NZ Cup and didn’t do a bad job in his first, finishing seventh behind Copy That in the great race last year.
Back then he was very much an open class newcomer on a steep learning curve, a curve that reached a new high when Kango finished third in May’s Auckland Cup to cap his first open class season.
He has returned stronger mentally and physically for the experience and is ready for his second NZ Cup campaign judging by his win in the Betavet Spring Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday.
Starting from a 15m back mark he settled second last, with galloper Hey Bartender behind him, but catch-driver Ben Butcher soon drove him like the best horse in the race and worked hard to lead.
Once there he was never going to be beaten, only needing to slide his last 800m in 56.7 to hold out stablemate Taipo and Raven Banner.
Kango now heads to the Methven Cup on Sunday week and the Ashburton Flying Stakes with the Cup trial possible on the way to the great race.
“It feels different going down there this year because we know he belongs in races like the Cup,” says Donnelly.
“He proved that a few times last time in but especially in the Auckland Cup.
“So we are going there with a better horse, a good stayer and one who knows what it is all about now.
“Sure, he is going to need luck in those biggest races but most of them are.”
Donnelly says Taipo, who was brave in second after chasing on the hot speed, could well join big giant stablemate in the South Island.
“He will go to the Holmes D G here next start (two weeks) and all going well could head to the Kaikoura Cup.
“And we could even have Crusader and Perfect Bet down there at some stage too.”