Self Assured heading south
By Michael Guerin
A loss for the Inter Dominions will be Invercargill’s gain with superstar pacer Self Assured to set tackle their richest ever race.
Co-trainer Mark Purdon has confirmed to HRNZ that last Friday’s New Zealand Free-For-All winner will be aimed next at the $100,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup on December 17, the new Group 1 which will be the highlight of a mammoth pre-Christmas meeting.
Self Assured is likely to be joined in the 3200m standing start feature by stablemate and NZ Cup placegetter Spankem.
Both horses initially had the option to go to the Inter Dominions in Victoria but neither Purdon not his owners were particularly keen because of the travel involved in the series and the stakes of the heats.
They also had the option to head to Alexandra Park and while the Auckland club is doing its best to put on attractive races with $50,000 open class pacing events on both December 16 and December 31, Invercargill covers that with the one new race.
Having Self Assured there will add extra glamour to the meeting, especially considering he has now won almost every important open class pace in the country: the New Zealand Cup, two Auckland Cups, The Race by Grins and the NZ Free-For-All.
“We think that is the best next target for him,” says Purdon.
“We were thrilled to see how he came through Cup week and I think the difference between this year and last year was we were able to get on to treating his spring allergies earlier and he was on the up going into Cup week.
“So he seems really well and so does Spankem, who had a really strong week too.”
The stable’s other New Zealand Cup runner Akuta, who finished fourth and was allowed to miss the NZ Free-For-All, will head to the New Zealand Derby at the Grand Prix meeting on December 4.
“He came out of the Cup in great order and I think it actually improved him,” says Purdon.
“So he will go to the Derby and then I think he can have a brief spell, rather than head to a race like the Chariots of Fire in Sydney.
“He has a lot of races here next year and with Ian (Dobson) having a slot in The Race by Grins that could be one logical target for him.”