Christen Me is as good as his trainer Cran Dalgety can have him going into his first assignment in almost four months – the $25,000 Avon City Ford Cup at Addington Raceway on Friday (September 27).
Dalgety is going for his fourth win in the Group 3 Free-For-All, also known as the New Brighton Cup. He believes Christen Me is as good as ever and can finish in the first three – at least.
If victorious it will be his seventh win in a row and 17th from 22nd all up.
“My fella is as good as I can get him after a couple of public runs. If he had one race under his belt I’d say he’d be very hard to beat, so whatever happens on Friday he will be primed for the Canterbury Classic in a fortnight,” Dalgety said.
“Last year’s winner of this race, Terror To Love is always tough to beat and Franco Ledger went big at Oamaru last start. I think they will provide Christen Me with his toughest competition,” he added.
Christen Me has drawn five (of nine) in Friday’s 2600m stand, three outside New Zealand Cup champ, Terror To Love.
The 5-year-old Christian Cullen gelding had two workouts on September 14 and 17 at Rangiora and Ashburton respectively, where he was just given a run both times.
At Ashburton he won a three-horse 2600m stand from 30m in 3:21.7 (mile rate: 2:04.8). He sprinted his last 800m and 400m in 55.3 and 28.1.
Then three days later he finished a nose, nose, three quarters of a length, and neck fifth (of five) behind Pass Them By, Fly Like An Eagle, and Jimmy Johnstone and Terror To Love.
Dalgety said the last start Jewels winner had developed into an even more refined athlete this time in.
“He has bigger hind quarters. He’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but has a very athletic body. He puts his food away and never seems to be full.
“He has a controlled diet of course but his food intake is high and to be honest I don’t know where it all goes. He’s all muscle,” his West Melton trainer said.
Christen Me will have three races before the New Zealand Cup on November 12.
“The Canterbury Classic (October 11) and the Ashburton Flying Stakes (October 28) and the will be all that he needs,” Dalgety said.
If successful on Friday Christen Me’s stake earnings will rest at $500,000 – not bad for a horse who won his first race just 15 months ago.
For the record Dalgety has won Friday’s race three times with Desperate Comment (1994 and 1995), and Scorching (2004).
If Christen Me does win it will also be Dexter Dunn’s first triumph in the time-honoured event, which goes back to Beckleigh’s win in 1950.
Previous New Brighton Cup winners (with drivers and times) have been:
2012: Terror To Love (Ricky May) 3:17.1; 2011: Auckland Reactor (Mark Purdon) 3:15.9; 2010: Stunin Cullen (Anthony Butt) 3:13.9; 2009: Bondy (David Butt) 3:13.5; 2008: Zenad (David Butcher) 3:14.4; 2007: Baileys Dream (Ricky May) 3:11.7; 2006: Tribute (David Earnshaw) 3:13.1; 2005: Harnetts Creek (Anthony Butt) 3:14.4; 2004: Scorching (Mark Jones) 3:15.9; 2003: Cool Hand Luke (Anthony Butt) 3:12.6; 2002: Cool Hand Luke (Mark Purdon) 3:12.0; 2001: Makati Galahad (John Hay) 3:15.3; 2000: The Tough Nut (Ricky May) 3:14.7.
By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)