Day At The Track

Can the Vics break their Hunter Cup hoodoo?

07:00 AM 02 Feb 2019 NZDT
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Kima and Wrappers Ash.jpg
Ashlea Brennan photo

Written off and forgotten, will tonight’s greatest race on the Victorian calendar be the night the local resistance returns?

The Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup has long been Victoria’s most coveted trophy but the local hopes have been cast into the background behind a marauding Tiger and New Zealand’s brilliant pacers.

It’s an all-too familiar tale, with Kerryn Manning and Arden Rooney’s win in 2015 the only Victorian triumph in the past 11 stagings of the $500,000 long distance classic.

Five Victorian-trained contestants will step out tonight, of which only Flaming Flutter has won an open-age Group 1, that being the SA Cup back in January 2016.

The trainer perhaps most likely to break that sequence is Swedish born Kima Frenning, the reinswoman whose first training experience with Buster Brady has secured country cups and a Hunter Cup start from gate four.

“It’s ridiculous,” Frenning said of their rapid rise. “He’s been really, really good. He’s just such a cool horse to be around and I’m really appreciative to have him as my first horse.

“I think he’s right up to this task here. It’s just going to depend on how this race is run.”

Frenning said the winner of four of his seven Victorian starts was “super quick” and would likely roll forward from the draw, “find a spot and then see what happens from there”.

It may well be a similar game plan for San Carlo and, like Frenning, Shepparton trainer Stephen O’Donoghue was optimistic about how his contender was situated for tonight’s pacing grand final.

“He’s better than what he was this time last year, there’s no doubt about that,” O’Donoghue said.

“He’s a bigger horse, a more mature horse, this is the race I probably set him for. All the way through, this is the one. It means so much to me. The longer distance, he’s a stayer, that’s not going to worry him.”

Gate six certainly “makes it a little bit harder” but “you never know, whether we go forward, whether we go back, it’s hard to gauge”.

The scenario will likely be simpler for fellow Victorian Wrappers Delight, who’s normally in Frenning’s hands but tonight will be driven by Gavin Lang for trainer David Aiken.

Drawn gate eight, Wrappers Delight looks set for a soft pegs run behind Our Uncle Sam and likely leader Tiger Tara and then it’s a matter of taking your opportunities when they present.

Similarly, long shot Victorians Flaming Flutter and Cant Refuse, the last of the locals, will likely look for every short cut before attempting to launch for the money late in the race.


Michael Howard

For Trots Media

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