Take two of Central Otago Cup
By Jonny Turner
Much has changed for the re-running of the group 3 Central Otago Trotting Cup at Wyndham today.
The Central Otago Trotting Club feature at Omakau on January 2 was called off when leading driver Ricky May collapsed after suffering a medical event in its early stages.
May was revived after the falling to the track from his sulky and then airlifted to Dunedin Hospital. He was subsequently transferred to Christchurch Hospital.
The race has undergone significant changes with withdrawals and additions to the field that will compete over 2400m at its temporary venue.
But those changes pale into insignificance when compared with the change May has gone through since the incident on January 2.
The champion driver has made excellent progress and has returned to his Methven home.
Canterbury driver Jonny Cox gets the chance to reunite with Nandolo, who he could not drive earlier this month because of suspension.
Though Cox is glad to get back behind the John Howe-trained pacer, he wishes it was under different circumstances.
“You never like to see anything like that happen to anyone. The main thing is Ricky is doing well.”
Cox was behind Nandolo when he was beaten by his main rival, Heisenberg, in last month’s Ashburton Cup.
Howe said after the race Nandolo may not have been at his best for the 3200m race and Cox agrees.
“The horse had raced right through New Zealand Cup week and ‘‘Coaster’’ [Howe] was trying to look after him after he had had a lot of hard racing.
“He was probably not quite ready for Ashburton and he did have quite a good blow after it.
‘‘He should be right up to the mark now.”
Heisenberg looks the toughest horse for Nandolo to beat.
Nandolo’s task to win looks easier now as A G’s White Socks, Vintage Cheddar and Jazzy Star are not starting in the re-run.
Swamp Major and Franco Santino return alongside Nandolo and Heisenberg.
Mach’s Back, Lawrence, Kilowatt Kid and Robyns Play have joined the field.
The withdrawal of several high-class opponents does not mean Cox will look to dominate the race with Nandolo.
“He is not that great in front. He knocks off a bit and you have to keep tapping him along.
“He has got a lot of speed and if we were able to slot him in somewhere that could be his best chance.”
Heisenberg was the early leader of the race at Omakau before he handed the front to A G’s White Socks.
The 4yr-old led in his strong Ashburton Cup win and he looks the likely leader again today.
Bookmakers opened Nandolo the $2.90 favourite for the Central Otago Cup when the fixed-odds market opened yesterday.
The pacer was quickly backed in to $2.20.
Heisenberg also received support, moving from $3.20 to $2.70.