Day At The Track

Historic Cranbourne Cup

08:37 AM 02 Mar 2017 NZDT
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Australia's harness racing spotlight moves to an historic Cranbourne Cup meeting tomorrow (Friday) night.

After the $150,000 Cranbourne Cup for thoroughbreds was postponed because of crazy winds back in Spring, the club opted to reschedule it for a bumper dual-codes Cup meeting this week.

So the galloping Cup will share the limelight with the $70,000 Group 1 Cranbourne Gold Cup of harness.

It’s a truly exciting smorgasboard for fans of both codes.

On the harness front, the Gold Cup has attracted a strong field headed by in-form recent country cup winners Flaming Flutter and My Kiwi Mate.

They clash for the third time in as many meetings with Flaming Flutter overpowering My Kiwi Mate in the Terang Cup on February 11 then My Kiwi Marte turning the tables and relegating Flaming Flutter to second spot in the Bendigo Cup six days later.

Flaming Flutter has the best of the draws in gate three and is a $2.40 favourite on the Aussie TAB, while My Kiwi Mate is $4.20 from gate 11.

The other key player is noted frontrunner Maximan, who upstaged Have Faith In Me at Melton last month. He’s a $4 shot and big threat if he can lead from gate four.

The other highlight of the harness card is the Group 1 Knight Pistol where Kiwi trotting mare Sunny Ruby is $2.30 favourite to win again despite drawing the outside (gate seven).

Sunny Ruby, in the care of Sonya Smith and Anthony Butt, has thrived during her Aussie campaign which has netted three wins and a third from just four starts along with $98,400 in stakemoney.

Another big watch runner at Cranbourne is David Aiken’s two-year-old first starter Higherthananeagle in the Sapling Stakes (race four).

The colt is a brother to Fly Like An Eagle (19 wins, $699,419), Mach Doro (14 wins, $146,086) and Three Squared (two wins, $62,045), who looked exciting before having to be put down.

Higherthananeagle blazed a 1min56.8sec mile rate, including a 56.2sec half, winning a Shepparton trial by a big space last Thursday.

“He’s a real natural and exciting. He went a lot quicker than we planned in the trial, but it doesn’t seemed to have taken anything out of him,” Aiken said.

“We’ve got Beltane in the race as well and we think he’ll develop nicely as the season goes on, but Higherthananeagle is the pick of them at the moment. We think he’ll be very hard to beat.”

Adam Hamilton

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