Matamata prospects on Cup day
This week’s Chronicle racing page will be one of looking forward rather than the usual fare reviewing events and achievements of days recently passed.
That’s all because of the weather that hit last weekend and brought about the rescheduling of one of the biggest days on the northern calendar, Auckland Cup day at Ellerslie. Instead of being run last Saturday, the 2017 Cup day programme is ideally placed, for the sake of the midweek Chronicle, on Thursday.
The date apart, the revamped card will comprise seven races instead of the original 10, allowing them to fit into a twilight schedule starting just after three o’clock and ending at seven o’clock. The headline race at 6.21pm is the $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup which has three Matamata-trained runners, the Mike Moroney/Pam Gerardtrained Mister Impatience, Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott’s Gentil Tonton and the Wayne Hillis-trained Perfect Start.
Mister Impatience, the winner of last year’s Wellington Cup and third in his final lead-up, the Avondale Gold Cup, has the best form credentials of the Matamata trio. Perfect Start has two unplaced runs heading into her major target, but placings this season in both the New Zealand and Wellington Cups are a better measure of her prospects.
Gentil Tonton, who came to Wexford Stables via earlier racing in Europe and Hong Kong, is one horse who should have no prob- lem with the conditions if the Ellerslie track doesn’t improve significantly from its weekend drenching. His recent form might not read the best, but a fourth placing in the New Zealand Cup and second in last year’s Rotorua Cup are proof of his ability on the right day.
Matamata’s strongest prospects for any of the Ellerslie Group One features are in the $200,000 Sistema Stakes for twoyear-olds. From Te Akau come the last-start winners Gold Fever (Matamata Breeders’ Stakes) and Melody Belle (Karaka Million), while Wexford is also doublehanded with Reid & Harrison Slipper winner Summer Passage and Matamata Breeders’ Stakes fourth Princess Rihanna.
After observing all four in their final serious work at the training track on Monday morning, I have to say that between them they make a formidable contingent for the big event.
Matamata has just one starter in the third Ellerslie Group One, the $200,000 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, and completing their big hand it’s Wexford Stables runner Sound Proposition.
In three starts this prep- aration, Sound Proposition has looked nothing like the horse that won the Gr. 1 Easter Stakes last autumn and in fact suffered an atrial fibrillation in his most recent start.
That’s a condition that horses can bounce through with the appropriate treatment and despite his patchy lead-up Sound Proposition isn’t necessarily out of play here.
Summer Passage is one of a strong four-horse contingent from Matamata lining up in the Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes on the rescheduled Auckland Cup day programme.