Reigning champion Mah Sish has timed his form renewal perfectly ahead of an attempt to defend his Group 1 Del-Re National Food Group AG Hunter Cup crown on Saturday night, leading all the way to win The Pure Steel at Ballarat at the weekend.
The seven-year-old gave nothing else a chance from the stand-start, defeating highly-rated runner-up Im Corzin Terror and third placegetter Jadahson in the $20,000, 2710m race.
Trained and driven by Hunter Cup kings Tim and Anthony Butt, who have previously won the prestigious race seven times (Blossom Lady in 1994 and 95, Mr D G in 2004, Mr Feelgood in 2009, Stunin Cullen in 2011, Choise Achiever in 2012 and Mah Sish last year), the Kiwi pacer has been thrust back into the spotlight with punters and bookmakers and is sure to be a key player in the annual classic at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.
This time in Mah Sish had shown only glimpses of his best before the weekend, with a second placing behind Smoken Up at Ballarat on Boxing Day and a third in the SEW-Eurodrive Popular Alm at Melton in November.
On the whole, he had been fairly disappointing with below-par efforts in the Victoria Cup and the Cranbourne Cup.
In April last year he finished well down the track in the Miracle Mile and the Cordina Sprint in Sydney, leaving punters scratching their heads about the son of Mach Three’s future.
But, like a Bart Cummings galloper heading into a Melbourne Cup in the world of gallops, the Butts have Mah Sish firing on all cylinders once again.
Why would we ever doubt them?
Best wins: AG Hunter Cup, Inter Dominion Heat, Ballarat Cup, The Pure Steel.
Best traits: Ultra-tough, proven from the stand.
Can he win the Hunter Cup? He’s from the Butt stable, so yes. Also, his Pure Steel win was gutsy. He’s back.