Splendour the horse to beat in the Northland Cup

10:12 PM 06 Jan 2014 NZDT
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Splendour - Looks the one to beat in tomorrow's Northland Cup

Splendour might not have had a standing start before but write her off in tomorrow’s (Tuesday) $8,000 Lincoln Farms Northland Cup at your own peril.

In fact co-trainer and driver, Todd Macfarlane believes his brown mare can turn her form around and win her seventh race from 21 starts in the C2 and faster handicap pace.

“I think she will be hard to beat going on by what she has shown in the past – not this campaign. She is healthy and working well. There are no excuses.

“I’m just hoping the right Splendour turns up and I think she will,” said Macfarlane who trains the daughter of Bettor’s Delight with Craig Sharpe at Patumahoe.

Splendour has drawn the outside of the front row (4) in tomorrow’s 2650m stand. She has had three Alexandra Park starts in December this campaign and failed to finish in the top five.

Prior to that she won a Group Three $30,000 for 3-year-olds on the Gold Coast in Australia, and then a week later finished second in the Group One $75,000 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park in Brisbane.That was on June 22 and 29.

“On hindsight I might have rushed her campaign a bit this time in merely so she could line up in the mares races. Last start she got too far back when they went a 1:55 mile rate, so she couldn’t really be blamed for finishing eighth.

“I really enjoy racing in the Country Cups races. I’ve never won a Northland Cup before and it would be very satisfying to achieve that,” Macfarlane said.

He said he would probably line Splendour up in one or two more Country Cup races with the hope of qualifying her for the Country Cups Final later in the season.

“I’m going to take it one race at a time with her. She’s the best mare I’ve trained, so I’ll just pick and choose her races.

“She’s taken a bit longer to come back from her extended Australian campaign. I don’t think she will have any problems stepping away,” Macfarlane said.

Splendour finished second behind Adore Me in last year’s Jewels Final at Ashburton. Tomorrow’s race is a big step down from that company.

Toughest for her to beat will be the Geoff Small trained Celtic Warrior, who is the sole starter on the 10m handicap.

The Geoff Small trained and David Butcher driven Celtic Warrior won well at Manawatu two starts back and then finished a creditable fourth at Cambridge on December 27, pacing the 2200m mobile in 2:45.7.

The Mach Three 4-year-old gelding will be having his first look at the Ruakaka grass, but has placed twice from four starts over the distance.

The most tightly assessed pacer in the field is the C5 assessed Mac’s Creation, who will start from the 30m back-mark.

The 7-year-old McArdle gelding returned from an 11-month lay-off with an eye-catching first-up win against C2 and faster opposition at Cambridge on December 29.

He has won his only start at Ruakaka and will be driven by one of the North Island’s best junior reinsmen, Papakura driver, Sailesh Abernethy.

By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

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