Day At The Track

Auckland Cup run in doubt for Sky Major

06:00 AM 30 Nov 2015 NZDT
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Sky Major - Doubtful for the Auckland Cup after three lacklustre runs
Sky Major - Doubtful for the Auckland Cup after three lacklustre runs

Sky Major's fortunes have plummeted from prince to pauper in less than three weeks.

Nineteen short days ago he was being touted as the new star of the open class pacing ranks when a hot favourite in the New Zealand Trotting Cup but trainer Barry Purdon says he is now in doubt for the Group I Auckland Cup on New Years Eve.

The five time Group I winner was bitterly disappointing when running a flat fifth behind upset winner No Doctor Needed over 1700m at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

Purdon removed regular driver Zac Butcher to drive Sky Major himself in an attempt to see where he was at after two disappointing runs over cup week but was left scratching his head with more questions than answers.

"I thought he was very average," he said.

Sky Major went back of the gate and found the one-one easily but despite doing no work was flat to the boards when they turned for home.

"He was probably more colty than he has ever been so maybe that was part of it, it's really hard to know but he didn't feel himself."

Twenty three nominations have been received for the cup but Sky Major could be the first casualty if he cannot find form quickly.

"He will need to show a marked improvement from what he did last night," Purdon said.

"I won't be lining him up just for the sake of it."

Blood tests have been taken and Sky Major will have his lung examination on Monday.

A winner of 15 races for more than $770,000 in stakes, Sky Major became the first horse to win the Harness Jewels at two, three and four back in May, but is yet to win in open class company.

Also in the nominations is last season's 3-year-old filly of the year The Orange Agent who went down to No Doctor Needed by a nose on Friday in her first start back since winning her Breeders Crown final on August 30.

Her second was enough to break Ideal Belle's national 1700m record for a filly or mare of 2.00.4 when she clocked 1-59.5 in slushy conditions.

Trainer Bunty Hughes could elect to send The Orange Agent to the mares races and avoid a clash with stablemate Hughie Green in the cup.

Meanwhile, Inter Dominion favourite Lennytheshark has enhanced his credentials with a 2.1m victory in the second of the three heats in Perth On Friday night.

The David Aiken trained runner was three wide for most of the final lap but was still too good in an ominous sign for the A$1.3m final on December 13.

James Rattray was not tipped to play much of a role in the series after defending champion Beautide was scratched but that could change if stablemate and heat one winner Devendra holds his form.

Former Kiwi Jason Rulz hit the line strongly to finish third.

Philadelphia Man was a comfortable winner of the third and final heat but the Kiwi owned Franco Ledger had no luck in the running to finish sixth.

He will get a chance to atone in the second round of heats on Tuesday when he starts from the ace in the opening heat.

Jason Rulz is the first emergency for the second heat.

There are no Kiwi trained horses in the series.

Auckland Cup nominations: Besotted, Bettor Dream, Beyond The Silence, Franco Nelson, Have Faith In Me, Hughie Green, Ideal Belle, Ideal Success, Lancewood Lizzie, Lets Elope, Lewy Risk, Master Charlie, Mighty Flying Mac, Mossdale Conner, No Doctor Needed, Ohoka Punter, Sky Major, Smolda, Spirit And Desire, Te Kawau, The Orange Agent, Tiger Tara, Wesley Silcox.

Mat Kermeen

Reproduced with permission of  Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

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