Start critical to favourite's chances in Waimate Cup

By Jonny Turner

The first 50m of the Waimate Cup could tell the story of the race ahead for Mo’unga.

The pacer comes into the 3000m grass track staying test after two solid pipe-opening runs on the West Coast for trainer Regan Todd.

The last time Mo’unga stepped out over the same distance, things went pear-shaped when the five-year-old racing fiercely in the Methven Cup.

Todd hit the reset button on the horse’s campaign and since coming back to the track, Mo’unga has brought his best manners to the races.

And it will be essential he does the same at Oamaru on Sunday.

“Things went pear-shaped in the Methven Cup, he got really fired up,” Todd said.

“We turned him out after that, just to let him forget about it and put it right behind us.”

“This preparation has been all about getting him to settle in his races and do things right.”

“So far he has been really good.”

Mo’unga has been running on strongly in his starts this time in and driver Robbie Close could elect to drive the horse with a sit again on Sunday.

Todd thinks the first 50m of the race could decide if that is the case.

“It will depend how he settles early on, if he doesn’t he might have to go forward.”

“But if he settles in behind them it will be fine, he has got a good turn of foot and he should be pretty competitive.”

“The first 50m of the race should tell the story.”

If Mo’unga is on his game on Sunday, Todd expects him to go a nice race.

“It is a nice, even race, Kikorangi Blue is dropping back from a Group Race so you have to respect that.”

“It is a nice even bunch but he looks a handy chance.”

Homebush Lad will be out to win his third cup on the Oamaru grass after taking out the 2021 Waimate Cup and the 2024 Waikouaiti Cup on the track.

The Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer has been rated the $3.80 second favourite for Sunday’s feature behind Mo’unga ($2.80) and ahead of Kikorangi Blue ($4.30).

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