Blair and ‘Tommy’ go way back. And on Monday (November 4) Blair Orange and Highview Tommy will be looking to reignite their long-term partnership in the $50,000 Alabar Kaikoura Cup at the picturesque South Bay Racecourse.
Highview Tommy hasn’t won the Kaikoura Cup in three attempts. He did finish a half-head second behind Smiling Shard in 2010. He was fourth in 2011 and seventh last year.
Orange on the other hand has won a Kaikoura Cup previously. That was in 2004 when he steered the John Parsons trained Harnetts Creek to victory in 2:59.6.
Blair and ‘Tommy’s’ first big win came five-and-a-half years ago when they won the Group One $100,000 Welcome Stakes at Addington Raceway. ‘Tommy’ was just two.
The black Bettor’s Delight – Baptism Of Fire entire is now eight and on the verge of competing in his fourth straight New Zealand Cup.
Orange said the Cup could be D-Day for the Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer.
“That will probably be the day we know whether or not he will be retired or not. He’s been one of my favourite horses I have driven over the years.
“He’s given me a lot of pleasure, but he hasn’t shown much lately. You never can write him off though. It all depends which ‘Tommy’ turns up,” Orange said.
He said he would be surprised if he won the Kaikoura Cup but was looking for an improved performance heading into the New Zealand Cup on November 12.
“He’s a great grinder and the New Zealand Cup suits his racing style. It would not surprise me if he showed up in the Cup because when he wants to he can mix it with them. Like I said it depends which ‘Tommy’ turns up,” Orange said.
Highview Tommy finished a three-quarter length second to Terror To Love in last year’s NZ Cup; the same margin plus a nose third in 2011, and ninth in 2010,
“He runs his best races on a loose rein. He’s an out-and-out stayer. In saying that he must reverse his form-line or that might be it,” Orange said.
Highview Tommy was trained by Mark Purdon up until his 11th in this year’s Auckland Cup. In late March he transferred to the Hope stable.
He has had seven races since then for a third.
“He needed a change of scenery and that’s why he went to Greg and Nina’s. A change is as good as a holiday.
“You have to remember his lead-up form into last year’s Cup wasn’t good and he finished less than a length from winning,” Orange said.
Highview Tommy has recorded two placing’s from four starts at Kaikoura, and a win and three placing’s from eight starts at the 2400m standing start distance.
All up Highview Tommy has won 17 of his 102 starts and placed in 27 others for $1,009, 323 in purses. He is ninth in the NZ Cup rankings and paying $61 to win the great race in just over a week.
‘Tommy’ has finished sixth, fifth, eighth and 10th this campaign.
Highview Tommy’s stablemate, Jason Rulz will be tough to beat on Monday. The 14th New Zealand Cup seed was the $6.50 fourth favourite when odds on the Kaikoura Cup opened this week.
Only Aussie pacer Suave Stuey Lombo $3.50; Fly Like An Eagle $4.80; and Jarcullembra $6 are favoured to beat ‘Tommy’ in the Group Two event.
Opening odds for Monday’s 2013 Kaikoura Cup were:
Suave Stuey Lombo $3.50; Fly Like An Eagle $4.80; Jarcullembra $6; Jason Rulz $6.50; Easy On The Eye $7; Jimmy Johnstone $10; Pass Them By $17; Highview Tommy $21; Mach Banner $21; Phantom Grin $31; Ellmer Hanover $51; Ardghal $51.
Kaikoura Cup winners since 2000 (with drivers and times) have been:
2012: Sushi Sushi (Natalie Rasmussen) 2.55.5. 2011: Smiling Shard (Dexter Dunn) 2:58.7. 2. 2010: Smiling Shard (Dexter Dunn) 2:58.9. 2009: Nearea Franco (Craig Thornley) 2:59.9. 2008: Report For Duty (Anthony Butt) 3:01.1. 2007: Bondy (David Butt) 2:59.8; 2006: Tribute (David Earnshaw) 3:01.5. 2005: Imagine That (Grant Payne) 3:03.6. 2004: Harnetts Creek (Blair Orange) 2:59.6; 2003: Falcon Rise (Peter Ferguson) 2:59.2. 2002: Disprove (David Butcher) 2:59.2. 2001: Pic Me Pockets (Tony Herlihy) 3:01.3. 2000: Bogan Fella (Mark Purdon) 2:59.4.
By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)