Will Amazing Dream be back for the Cup?
By Michael Guerin
With harness racing's biggest race exactly two months away, one major piece of the IRT New Zealand Cup puzzle is now firmly in place and a huge question mark hangs over another.
That is whether Auckland Cup winner and one of the favourites for harness racing’s Horse of the Year, Amazing Dream, returns home for the race.
And punters could have to wait another month to find out, a revelation that could enormously impact the market for the great race.
The Cup is two months today and Addington bosses have confirmed the stake at $600,000, up over 10 per cent on last year and the richest harness race in New Zealand and second richest in Australasia.
Some of the Cup contenders have already been back to the races and will clash again at Addington on Friday night while Cambridge contender Kango races off a 20m handicap on his home track tonight.
The big-name northern contenders headlined by Copy That have been handed a pre-Cup campaign pathway to prepare at home with the ATC moving the Spring Cup back two weeks to October 8 and the Holmes D G until October 22, making them key NZ Cup lead-ups.
That could see them host most of the northern stars with the exception of South Coast Arden who will head from Pukekohe to Canterbury in time for the Canterbury Classic on October 1.
That will also act as the comeback race for defending NZ Cup champ Self Assured while the four Southland contenders for the great race, Pembrook Playboy, U May Cullect, Vintage Cheddar and Robyn’s Playboy will have a special elite horses trial at Wyndham today.
So the numbers for the 3200m group one are looking good but Amazing Dream remains the question mark as she is now based in Victoria with Nathan Purdon, son of former trainer Mark.
She had a three-week break after her enormously successful Queensland campaign during which she won both the Rising Sun and Blacks A Fake, top level group ones to add to her Auckland Cup last New Year’s Eve.
Those glamour wins against the boys were in and around some expensive defeats as a red hot favourite in mares races which suggest the harder a race is the better it suits her, and no New Zealand harness race is tougher than the NZ Cup.
But Purdon says he will not make a definite decision on a NZ Cup bid until Amazing Dream competes in the Victoria Cup at Melton on October 9.
“The owners are based in the US and they have pretty much told me it is my decision whether she goes home for the Cup or not,” says Purdon.
“Of course I’d love to have her over there and win the Cup but there are several factors that will impact that.
“One is obviously her form here and how she goes in the Victoria Cup while I will also be keeping a close eye on Self Assured’s form over home and how he comes up. And also Copy That.”
Purdon says Amazing Dream is very tentatively booked on a flight back to New Zealand four days after the Victoria Cup but punters shouldn’t take that as any guarantee she will be at Addington.
“We really haven’t made a decision because there are some good races for her here, like the Queen of the Pacific and Breeders Crown around the same time which should be easier targets.”
If Amazing Dream doesn’t return to New Zealand for the Cup she is almost certain to be in the United States by Christmas, with Purdon saying she is booked on a flight mid-December that will likely negate her starting in the Inter Dominions in New South Wales.
Purdon is also the new trainer of former Pukekohe pacer American Dealer and says the little Queensland Derby winner is working well as he is aimed at the Victoria Derby, also at Melton on October 9.