Perfect start sets up victory for Self Assured
By Jonny Turner
Self Assured’s first 100m was as important as his powerful finishing burst as the All Stars pacer sent his New Zealand Cup stocks skyward by winning Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday night.
After a trying three weeks, the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained pacer put his New Zealand Cup campaign back on track when downing his stablemate Spankem, who produced a massive effort in his return from injury, in the group 2 feature.
Though Self Assured sped over his last 800m in 53.73sec and last 400m in 26.29sec, the way the 5yr-old finished off his race was not necessarily the most impressive part of his performance.
Because after making a complete hash of his last standing start in the New Brighton Cup, the New Zealand Cup favourite paced off the mark from his unruly position perfectly.
And that was exactly what Purdon wanted to see.
“He stepped away really well, you couldn’t really ask for much better from him,” the trainer driver said.
Self Assured’s performance was not faultless as he rolled in to a gallop in a tightening of runners leaving the first bend.
Though the incident could prove crucial later in his preparation.
The Auckland Cup winner has not been in that kind of situation before and it could prove vital that he has experienced that kind of shuffling of horses come New Zealand Cup time.
“It wasn’t his fault – it was unavoidable,” Purdon said.
“But he is probably that sort of horse that he hasn’t been in that situation before.”
“But knowing that now we might have to be a little bit more cautious.”
Self Assured and Spankem put their well documented hoof problems that ruled them out of the Hannon Memorial behind them with their excellent performances.
Spankem was brilliant in his return from the fetlock injury he suffered during last year’s New Zealand Cup Carnival.
Giving away a race fitness edge to most of his rivals, the Miracle Mile winner sat parked for the last lap of the Canterbury Classic and was only beaten by his superstar stablemate.
Spankem has a lot of improvement to come, considering he has now had just one run this campaign compared to Self Assured’s five outings.
Considering that, Purdon admitted there is little between the two horses heading towards the New Zealand Cup.
“There is not a lot between them.”
“Spankem has come up really well and tonight you could see he will be a better horse the next time he steps out.”
Tango Tara sped home for an important third placing in Friday night’s feature.
That effort guaranteed the Jim Curtin trained and driven pacer a start in the New Zealand Cup.
The 5yr-old will leapfrog plenty of other contenders from his 21st place in the latest rankings for the cup, which is sure to have a follow on effect for other cup hopefuls.
Though it was plain sailing for the first three home, the road to the New Zealand Cup remained a rocky one for many of the Canterbury Classic contestants.
Thefixer was eased out of the race at the 900m after suffering an atrial fibrillation.
Dadndave was also pulled up after galloping and causing the shuffling of horses that contributed to Self Assured’s gallop.
U May Cullect finished last of the seven runners to complete the Canterbury Classic after hanging throughout the race.
That was uncharacteristic for the Southern sensation, with his camp suggesting the pacer’s recovery would be closely monitored to see if any explanations for his performance are revealed.
Earlier on Friday night, Sundees Son produced his second stunning group 3 performance in a row when powering to a huge win in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup.
The Robert Dunn trained trotter backed up his five and a half demolition job in last month’s Ordeal Trotting Cup with a four length win in Friday night’s 2600m feature for driver John Dunn.
Dunn said the horse’s path to the his main goal, the Dominion, is yet to be decided.
But it was unlikely to include a tile at the Ashburton Trotter’s Flying Mile later this month.
Dunn and son John will make a decision on the horse’s next race and path towards the Dominion in conjunction with owners Colin and Nancy Hair in the coming days.