Thefixer set to be the big shortener in Auckland Cup
by Michael Guerin
A horse who hasn’t won a race in New Zealand for 13 months is emerging as the danger to the favourite in Tuesday’s $250,000 Auckland Trotting Cup.
But if Thefixer is to break his domestic duck in Alexandra Park’s greatest race he is going to down the latest new big thing of the pacing ranks in Self Assured.
Thefixer is set to be the big shortener in the Trillian Trust-sponsored Cup after drawing barrier one from where he should be able to use his standing start manners to settle handy or even lead.
That could give him a big tactical advantage over hot favourite Self Assured, who while he has drawn well at barrier three doesn’t yet have the proven standing start manners of his stablemate.
Self Assured has been all the rage in the Auckland Cup market since it was announced he would be allowed to miss the recent Inter Dominions to concentrate on this and other features later in the summer.
He emerged late in his three-year-old season last June during a stunning Queensland campaign and while he has limited open class experience he oozes class.
Self Assured reminded everybody of his enormous ability when thrashing intermediate grade horses on Interdom Grand Final night and if Tuesday night’s race comes down to raw speed he might simply be too good for his older, more battle-hardened rivals.
“He is going to be hard to beat, especially the way he is working,” said Matt Bowden, the traveling foreman for the All Stars stable.
“He is working like a very, very good horse still on the way up but he still has a bit to learn and doesn’t have a lot of standing start experience.
“I think if he steps he might actually step really quickly but I suppose he isn’t as proven from a stand as some of our other ones.”
Any manners concerns for Self Assured, be they real or presumed, could be another reason Thefixer is the market mover.
Those not keen on the odds-on for Self Assured will go hunting for one of his stablemates to back against him and the ace draw could make Thefixer their favoured target.
He was a big improver during the Inter Dominion series and did a huge job to finish third in the final behind his now-injured stablemate Ultimate Sniper.
Thefixer hasn’t won a race in New Zealand since his New Zealand Cup success of 13 months ago and at times this spring it looked questionable whether he would find his best form again as he battled hoof issues.
But since coming to Auckland he has looked a happier horse and his Interdom Final performance suggested he is almost back to his New Zealand Cup best of last year.
If he can use his standing start manners to lead or trail early and then not have to cover any extra ground it would take a very good version of Self Assured to give him much of a start and a beating.
Senior co-trainer Mark Purdon is likely to drive Self Assured while Natalie Rasmussen will work Thefixer this morning, and looks set to partner him which could see Blair Orange re-united with Cruz Bromac, who he drove to win last month’s New Zealand Cup.
They are three of five the all-conquering Purdon-Rasmussen stable have in the 3200m Cup and they will dominate the market, with Chase Auckland the one least-suited by the standing start conditions as he has to start in the unruly.
The Cup will run at 8.08pm at the twilight meeting that kicks off with a 4.06pm start.
Earlier in the programme Inter Dominion Trot champ Winterfell is likely to need a new driver in the $100,000 National Trot even though he has drawn the ace.
Purdon, who drove him in the Inter Final, looks set to stick with stablemate Oscar Bonavena, who has been stunning at times this season and jogged to victory in the Flying Mile at Cambridge last Tuesday.
Oscar Bonavena faces the toughest test of his career on Tuesday as he is likely to settle off the speed against Winterfell (barrier one), Majestic Mac (2), Enhance Your Calm (5) in a race which also contains Temporale, Massive Metro, Marcoola and Paramount King, making it the strongest trotting race in New Zealand in the last three years.
One Change has drawn to continue his outstanding big-race record in the $200,000 PGG Wrightson Sales Series Pace, with barrier two ensuring he will start a hot favourite, especially as his last-start conqueror Copy That is not a sales horse and therefore ineligible.
But the All Stars won’t get things all their own way in the $150,000 Alabar Sires’ Stakes Fillies Championship, with red hot pre-draw favourite Amazing Dream to start from the inside of the second line.