Day At The Track

Invercargill Cup field a cracker

11:59 AM 26 Jan 2017 NZDT
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Costa Del Magnifico.jpg
Costa Del Magnifico last years Invercargill cup winner
Bruce Stewart

The field for Saturday’s Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Trotting Cup is the best for at least a decade.

The star attraction will be Christen Me the winner of nearly two and a half million dollars. No horse with that amount of stake money has ever lined up in this time honoured Group Three race.

The race has in the past failed to attract any great numbers but the field of ten for Saturday’s feature has some mouth-watering possibilities.

Not many horses have started off the 40 metre handicap in recent years but Christen Me has the class to overcome this mark. Prince Rashad, when he won his second Invercargill Cup in 1997, started off 35 metres.

The exceptionally talented Heaven Rocks leads a three pronged attack by the All Stars stable. From just eight starts he’s won four races and we all remember his dominating win in last year’s Harness Jewels at Cambridge. His manners sometimes let him down but expect improvement by being another year older.

There’s plenty of local interest with Costa Del Magnifico back to defend the cup he won last year. Captain Dolmio was trained in Gore until recently before being taken over by Robert Dunn’s Canterbury stable. He’s still locally owned. Mossdale Conner was born just up the road and is owned by Northern Southland farmer Archie Affleck.

West Melton trainer Nigel McGrath, a regular visitor to this meeting, has three runners down to start. Classie Brigade, Maverick and Ears Burning.

It’s also interesting to look back on the stake level for this race.

In the last ten years it’s got as high as $63,728 in 2008 and as low as $30,500 last year. This year’s stake is $32,000 and it just goes to show that it’s not always about the money it just has to fit into a trainers racing calendar to put the race on the radar.

It appears all of the stars have aligned this season and as a result the club can well proud of the field they have attracted.

As for the race – it has the potential to turn into a blinder with Franco Ledger’s race record of 3-58.7 under threat.

It could also become a race that see’s Christen Me return to winning form or the emergence of next year’s New Zealand Cup winner.

See ya there on Saturday for the race of the day!!

Meanwhile three trotters from the same mare will start in Race Five at Ascot Park on Saturday.

Dark Horse, Father Christmas and Monty Python are all out of the Sundon mare Juliana and all were bred by Bevan and Keith Grice.

Monty Python and Father Christmas are trained by Phil Williamson while his son Nathan trains Dark Horse.

The horses share some of the same owners as well with Dark Horse raced by The Griffins Syndicate and The Seafield Trotting Syndicate, Father Christmas is raced by The Seafield Trotting Syndicate and DR Beckingsale while Monty Python is raced by DR Beckingsale and The Griffins Syndicate.

It's very rare for three of any mares progeny to race against each other and in harness racing it's more likely to be in a trotting races as horses in that gait race to an older age.

In galloping it may have happened in a steeplechase or hurdle event. 

Bruce Stewart
Southland Harness Racing

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