Tim Butt isn’t pushing the panic button even after Mah Sish raced like anything but a Hunter Cup winner at Oamaru on Sunday.
The dual group one winner was the first horse beaten in his comeback race and finished seventh of nine after leading in the middle stages.
While winner Franco Ledger had to break 54 seconds for his last 800m and the runner-up Four Starzzz Flash has gone to another level, the fact Mah Sish was beaten so easily is a concern for punters who have taken fixed odds about him for November’s New Zealand Cup.
But trainer Butt says Mah Sish will improve quickly and the race may be a wake up call for other established open class stars like Terror To Love and Christen Me.
“When you see horses like Franco Ledger breaking 54 for their last 800m you realise how hard the open class season is going to be,” said Butt.
“I wasn’t too unhappy with my fella because he will improve quickly.
“But it also shows that you can go to the trials and think you have gone well pacing 56 seconds (for the last 800m) but that isn’t going to be good enough to win races.”
With so many of New Zealand’s best pacers able to sprint blistering last sectionals at present, winning fresh-up is becoming a rarity in open class.
Four Starzzz Flash found that three starts ago, while Franco Ledger struggled in his return to racing at Addington two weeks ago before improving immensley to win the Hannon on Sunday.
With those two and Mah Sish set to head to Addington on September 27, both Terror To Love and Christen Me will need to be close to their peaks to beat them.
Christen Me made his first public appearance of the spring at the Rangiora trials on Saturday and looked very sharp and most importantly handled the standing start well.
He will back-up at the Ashburton trials today.
Meanwhile, the Auckland Trotting Club has stuck by a pledge to the trainers of northern open class horses by holding the $25,000 Spring Cup this Friday.
The ATC could have scrapped the race with only six acceptors but wanted to give the northern pacers a chance to gain form and fitness for the New Zealand Cup meeting without having to head south too early.
The Spring Cup pits Besotted up against one of the big movers of last season in Easy On The Eye.
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)