Plenty of missing pieces
By Michael Guerin
The confused puzzle that is the New Zealand Trotting Cup still has plenty of missing pieces after Eamon Maguire’s win in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton yesterday.
The Harness Jewels winner confirmed what most punters already suspected, that with his manner and speed he is going to be a factor in the $800,000 classic at Addington come November 13.
He stepped quickly to the lead then trailed stablemate Dream About Me and the pair surged clear of their rivals as leaders so often do at Ashburton, with Eamon Maguire just having too much sharp speed for the older mare.
Alta Orlando was a huge third after starting from the unruly ahead of Star Galleria, who ran on well for fourth after a brief gallop at the start and then the expensive failure Ultimate Machete.
He galloped wildly early and settled last, giving himself and punters no chance in a race set up for the leaders.
The Cup favourite made strong ground for fifth but his manners are making him a hard horse to back with confidence and the reality is in three starts this season he has yet to race a place.
Nobody doubts his ability but his issues add to a Cup with far more question marks than answers three weeks out.
Eamon Maguire is good enough to win the Cup but 3200m may not be his ideal trip, Dream About Me looks vulnerable to speedsters divebombing her and Alta Orlando is basically off a handicap in the great race because he is unruly.
Star Galleria looks to be tracking in the right direction then after Ultimate Machete it is hard to make a case for any of the other beaten brigade yesterday winning the Cup.
Aussie raider Chicago Bull is likely to race at Alexandra Park on Friday against last season’s Cup runner-up Jacks Legend but with a small field likely it will be interesting to see what value that race ha as a form guide to the Cup.
The other Aussie challenger Tiger Tara was impressive winning at Menangle on Saturday night and edges his way closer to Cup favouritism because he has so few weak points.
Add in the likes of Thefixer, who has had a slight setback and last week’s Methven Cup winner Cruz Bromac and the Cup has a lot more winning chances that we are used to in the last decade.
As efficient at Eamon Maguire was yesterday the performance of the day was undoubtedly comeback trotter Marcoola in the Flying Mile.
He equalled the national all-comers mile record with a 1:54.5 grinding effort over the top of Great Things Happen, who looked home at the 200m mark after leading.
Marcoola looked a potential superstar two seasons ago but was sidelined for much of last year and the break seems to have done him so good as he looks bigger and stronger, taking pole position for the open class trotters at this early stage of the season.