Pacing’s wonderhorse may have the bookies running scared but this key rivals aren’t shaking in their boots yet.
Christen Me continued his seemingly unstoppable march toward greatness with a ruthlessly efficient comeback win at Addington last Friday, downing two-time New Zealand Cup hero Terror To Love.
The paired gapped their rivals, suggesting they are not only the best, but only realistic, Kiwi hopes in the New Zealand Cup on November 12.
So much so the TAB has moved Christen Me into a scarcely believable $2.40 to win the Cup, with Terror To Love at $3.20, even though they will both races twice before the great race and it is still six weeks from today.
A lot can go wrong in six weeks and even if Christen Me wins his other two lead-up races it is hard to imagine him starting any shorter than $2-$2.20 in the Cup, especially with Terror To Love to be joined by Australian superstars I’m Themightyquinn and Caribbean Blaster.
Their near-certain involvement in the race would see plenty of Australian support in the co-mingled betting pools and suggests Christen Me’s $2.40 quote is anything but value, with Aussie bookies still having him $3.20 to win the Addington thriller.
Still, the skinny odds may have been an attempt by the NZ TAB to put punters off any big bets on Christen Me until the hype over last Friday’s win calms down.
Christen Me did allay one fear with his victory and that was his lack of standing start experience as he was one of the fastest out and it is becomingly increasingly hard to pick holes in his Cup credentials.
But the man leading the Australian challenge isn’t getting carried away.
“We all know he is a very good horse and the heir apparent,” says Im Themightyquinn’s trainer Gary Hall.
“But I wouldn’t be getting too carried away by what we saw last Friday.
“They jogged around and sprinted a half (800m) and the first pair were a lot better than the other horses.
“I have always been a huge Christen Me fan but there are still some very good horses yet to turn up.”
Hall is pleased with I’m Themightyquinn’s recent progress after a health scare six weeks weeks ago and he could race in the next fortnight before traveling from Perth to Christchurch, via Melbourne, around October 26.
“He will probably only have one run here then one in the Kaikoura Cup over there before the Cup,” said Hall.
It has been a case of out of sight, out of the market for I’m Themightyquinn, with the champion out to $7.50 with the TAB, remarkable odds for a three-time Interdom champion and two-time Auckland Cup winner, especially now he is confirmed as a Cup starter.
Victoria Cup winner Caribbean Blaster is also definitely coming to Addington and races at Melton this Friday while NSW horseman Shane Tritton says Suave Stuey Lombo will still make the trip even after a dramatic failure after over-racing at Menangle last Saturday.
The open class circus moves to Methven for their cup this Sunday before Christen Me and Terror To Love are likely to clash again at Addington on Friday week in a race that could also contain Spring Cup winner Easy On The Eye.
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)