Self Assured just too good in Auckland Cup
By Michael Guerin
Self Assured’s only worry became one of his most potent weapons on his way to an effortless victory in last night’s $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup.
The exceptional four-year-old blasted straight to the front from the standing start and 3200m later added his name to the list of Cup legends, strolling clear of stablemate Thefixer and Triple Eight to complete his ascension to the top of the pacing ranks.
Pre race trainer-driver Mark Purdon had warned that Self Assured could be vulnerable from the standing start, as had been the case in his only two career defeats when he was slow away.
Those doubts and a wave of money for Thefixer stunningly saw Self Assured actually start second favourite last night and those who were on him at the eventual $2.80 odds would have been beaming when he stepped not only safely but fast.
That enabled him to hold the inside line over another fast beginner Classie Brigade to the first bend and while there were movers the leader and trailer were always going to dominate.
The most surprising aspect of the finish was just how easily Self Assured strode clear of a New Zealand Cup winner in Thefixer, suggesting with recent Inter Dominion winner Ultimate Sniper injured, Self Assured will be favourite for any major race he is set for.
The first of those races will be the Chariots Of Fire for four-year-olds in Sydney in February, with Melbourne getting a taste of Self Assured’s talents first in another four-year-old race, the Bonanza at Melton as he heads there to qualify for the Sydney group one.
“He won’t go to the Hunter Cup though,” said Purdon.
Safely through the Bonanza and into the Chariots Of Fire he will be aimed at his next major open class target the A$1million Miracle Mile also at Menangle.
The pacing world looks his oyster, with speed and his growing manners.
Earlier in the night the All Stars seemingly unstoppable domination continued with Winterfell, One Change and Amazing Dream taking the other features.
Winterfell’s professional victory in the $100,000 National Trot could hardly be deemed a total shock coming just 17 days after he won the Inter Dominion Trotting Final but last night’s win was a step up.
He had to be more controlled in trailing Majestic Man and then not only outsprint him but his hot favourite stablemate Oscar Bonavena.
The latter was forced to sit parked for the last lap and found that too tough against the absolute best and was beaten into third, with Majestic Man fighting back for the bravest of seconds.
But Winterfell proved once again that at Alexandra Park he is a vastly superior horse to the one who can gallop so often left-handed.
Just six weeks ago he was the punter’s enemy, now he has won four of his five starts since coming north and his win last night has to take him a long way toward the Trotter of the Year title.
Just as professional last night but using the passing lane to win from the trail was One Change, who justified his favouritism in the $200,000 PGG Wrightson Sales Series Pace for three-year-olds.
The former sales reject who was passed in for $30,000 has now won both Sales Series Paces, the Sires Stakes at two and three and a Harness Jewel for almost $500,000 in stakes with so much of his career still lying ahead.
He sprinted past a very brave Bad To The Bone, who was excellent in second in a race marred by the second favourite Smooth Deal being checked early and losing 40m in a gallop. His recovery to finish fifth was massive.
And Amazing Dream overcame one on the second line courtesy of a beautiful Natalie Rasmussen drive to complete the clean sweep, overpowering Stylish Memphis in the Alabar Fillies’ Championship.