One of the few genuine challengers to Christen Me and Terror To Love’s domination of the New Zealand Trotting Cup may be clawing his way back into the race.
Victoria Cup winner Caribbean Blaster looked a forlorn chance of making it to Christchurch for the Addington classic on November 12 after a low-grade virus last week robbed him of crucial lead-up racing.
But now trainer Andy Gath says he is “confident” of Caribbean Blaster being there, which will add important depth to the race.
Already Australia’s best pacer I’m Themightyquinn has pulled out of the $650,000 New Zealand Cup and when Caribbean Blaster’s campaign got the wobbles most observers saw the race as a straight shoot out between Christen Me and Terror To Love.
So much so the New Zealand TAB has Christen Me at $2 with the Cup still three weeks away, and Terror To Love at $2.80.
And that looks positively generous compared with the Australian TAB, who have Christen Me at $1.65, a price which if matched on Cup day would make him the hottest New Zealand Cup favourite since the introduction of decimal currency.
So the betting markets need Caribbean Blaster as much as the race does to generate more co-mingling interest from his native Victoria.
“I think he will be there,” said Gath.
“He has recovered well from the virus and even though he misses two lead-up races he has had a good grounding at home and just needs tweaking.
“After he works on Wednesday we will look at even nominating him for a race at Kimore this week and he could even race in Sydney the following Saturday as he has to head there to fly across.
“He got a lot out of the NZ Cup trip last season so at this stage the trip is back on.”
Caribbean Blaster has drifted out to $21 for the Cup after opening at $13 but if he is able to bounce back with a win in the next two weeks he has every chance of starting third favourite on the day.
He will be joined in the Cup by fellow Australian rep Suave Stuey Lombo, who has arrived in Canterbury in good condition for trainer Shane Tritton.
Suave Stuey Lombo has been outstanding for much of the last two months and is nominated for the $60,000 Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday.
That race is a shadow New Zealand Cup field, with Christen Me and Terror To Love headlining a race that also contains Fly Like An Eagle, Franco Ledger, Besotted, Mah Sish and Easy On The Eye.
The Ashburton meeting is usually the first great programme of the season and next Monday’s looks no different.
Last season’s champion filly Adore Me will return in a mares mile while the Trotting Mile could include Stig, Stent, Vulan, Escapee, Dr Hook and a possible surprise first New Zealand start for former Scandinavian trotter Peak.
The latter was a smart age group performer who won the Danish Derby and is part of a three-horse purchase from the region by clients of the Tim Butt stable.
“They are all coming up well and Peak is the sharpest of them at this stage so we are looking forward to seeing how they go at the races,” says Butt.
NZ TROTTING CUP
NZ TAB market: $2, Christen Me; $2.80 Terror To Love; $21, Mah Sish, Bitobliss (unlikely), Fly Like An Eagle, Caribbean Blaster; $26, Besotted, Franco Ledger, Suave Stuey Lombo, Easy On The Eye; $51 or more the rest.
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Rac ing New Zealand)