Start crucial in even Wairio Cup
By Jonny Turner
Whether it's the rookie Get Up N Dance or the previous winner Vintage Cheddar, no horse can afford to give away a head start to their rivals in a highly competitive Wairio Cup.
A quality and incredibly even field head to Winton on Saturday to contest the 2021 running of the 2400m feature.
With the even nature of the field – set up by the race’s handicaps – an advantage to be gained or disadvantage to be given away at the start could have a crucial impact on the event.
The biggest question mark when the tapes fly will be whether Get Up N Dance can step away in his first standing start.
The three-year-old has shown incredible talent in a short career, and is coming off a crushing win in the Show Day Futurity during the New Zealand Cup Carnival.
But he has also shown the odd wayward tendency which he needs to keep in check on Saturday.
And trainer-driver Nathan Williamson thinks he can.
“I think he will step away, it is just a matter of him being tardy to line up or if he was worked up he could swing around.”
“That may be more of an issue than the actual pacing.”
“If he fronts up and stands up I think he will go away and I don’t think that will be a problem.”
While there are queries about his standing start manners, there is no doubting Get Up N Dance’s ability.
“He has certainly got the talent to foot it,” Williamson said.
Get Up N Dance starts from the 10m mark, while Vintage Cheddar is at the other end of the scale behind the 40m tape.
There is little concern about his standing start credentials, but his chances rely on how the race is run in front of him.
“It is not going to be easy off 40m, but he is the class horse of the field,” driver Matthew Williamson said.
“It will depend on how the race pans out for him, but if he can get handy enough he is a chance.”
Mark Jones and Samantha Ottley take on an incredible line up of Williamson trained trotters in Saturday’s Gold Chip Final.
The Canterbury pairing start Hot To Trot, who takes on four smart Phil Williamson trained horses in Pyramid Mystic, Harry Stamper, Sheza Gift and Dwindle Star.
Though it clearly won’t be easy, Hot To Trot has the advantage of the front line, which could prove crucial.
“The ones of fthe front, us and Phil’s one (Pyramid Mystic) – 20m is a big start over the other ones over 2400m,” Mark Jones said.
“They can step and run a pretty good time off the front.”
“He went pretty good last week Hot To Trot, he ran 3.03 and did a lot of work early and was still there at the finish.”
“He is a pretty nice horse, as are Phil’s ones, so it should be a pretty good race.”
Those looking for a cheeky eachway bet on Saturday could do a lot worse than Smokin Annie in race 6.
The mare is among a large team Michael House starts on Wairio Cup Day which includes four runners in the Wairio Cup.
House rates Smokin Annie a decent threat in her fillies and mares mile, alongside stablemate Especial.
“Especial has dropped a couple of points lately and when she gets into under rating 60 races she is lethal,” House said.
“Smokin Annie, I have got a lot of time for this wee mare.”\
“We have had a lot of trouble with her front feet, on and off.”
“I put her in deep and lost some points, Wilson (House) drove her on the grass at Motukarara the other day, getting her fit for this race.”
“We identified this race a month ago and we have schooled her up ready for this.”
“If I had to pick one of the two it would be Smokin Annie.”
Sarah O’Reilly takes the reins behind Smokin Annie on Saturday.