Winter racing for Nandolo before cup tilt

By Jonny Turner

The COVID-19 pandemic has set up an old school New Zealand Cup preparation for last year’s seventh placegetter, Nandolo.

The 5yr-old showed he was ready to rumble when racing resumes at Addington next week with a comfortable trial win on the same track, last week.

Trainer John Howe had Nandolo ready for a run at the South Island’s late season open class features before the COVID-19 pandemic put racing on hold.

The current situation has led to Nandolo now working towards a New Zealand Cup preparation that adheres to the previously long held notion that a cup contender must be racing by the National Meeting (in August) to be fit enough to win in November.

“We had him ready for the good races at the end of the season, like the Rangiora Classic, before everything stopped,” Howe said.

“He had three weeks off and we thought we would carry on and just see what races they would have for horses like him.”

“I spoke to the handicappers and he will get five points for every win.”

“So, we will try to win a couple of races and that would have him rated 95 [points].”

“He races those top horses anyway, so it should work out pretty good for him.”

Nandolo emerged with one of the several hard luck stories in last year’s New Zealand Cup when badly held up on the home turn.

Howe is hopeful the pacer will return a better prospect after a season of clashing with some of the country’s best horses.

“He should be a little bit better this year.”

“He is a big horse and he has been getting better every season.”

Clearly, modern training techniques and the refinement of today’s standardbred mean Nandolo will not be as busy as the cup horses of the 1970s and 1980s, who raced through winter.

One of the limited number of starts the pacer will have before the spring is set to come when racing resumes next week.

“He is very well and he will be ready for the first meeting,” Howe said.

“We had eight at the trials last week and most of the team are about 80-90% at the moment.”

“We will have eight at the trials again this week to get them ready.”

Howe, stable reinsman Jonny Cox and breeder-owners, Phil and Christine Smith, doubled up at last week’s Addington trials when winning both the fast class 2600m trot and pace.

Aladdin Sane showed he was also on track to resume next week for the quartet when beating a talented field.

The 4yr-old won first up in December after a year away from the track.

That meant the Aladdin Sane found himself in the intermediate grades with just four starts behind him.

The trotter is now refreshed, recharged and ready to measure up to his rating.

“He is quite a nice horse and I think he can go on with it,” Howe said.

“He and Phoebe Onyx should both do good jobs.”

Phoebe Onyx ran second to Sioux Princess over 2600m in rating 46-55 company at last week’s Addington trials.

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