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There are 3 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. X = X factor There are many X factor horses that haven’t won the New Zealand Cup. Young Quinn was third twice in 1973 and 1974, Delightful Lady was second in 1980’s epic duel with Hands Down, and Master Musician was second twice to Bee Bee Cee and Chokin. Then there’s the hard luck story that is Tiger Tara. The winner of 37 races including seven Group Ones raced in five New Zealand Cups, finishing second twice behind Thefixer (2018) and Lazarus (2016) and also third in 2017 (Lazarus). Initially the horse was trained by Geoff Dunn before heading to Kevin Pizzuto. He earned just shy of $2.5m   HRNZ

2020 has been a year like no other. The global pandemic which is known as Covid-19 has turned most, if not all things upside down. At times its been harrowing, disturbing, heartbreaking and traumatic but one constant throughout the battle has been hope. While many items have been delayed or wiped from the calendar, some things have remained. And New Zealand Cup week is one that will go ahead. Sure, things will be different, but as a whole, the New Zealand Cup is the biggest racing event staged in the Shaky Isles and it always delivers. The crowd will be smaller for obvious reasons with next to no Aussie’s in attendance, but the roar will be unified as the Cup field battles it out in the home straight. Naturally, the leading stables of All Stars, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are set to play a major role in the outcome of the 3200m stand start feature. Since forming the partnership back in 2013, their record in the Cup is astonishing with five victories in the past six years. They prepared last year’s winner Cruz Bromac who was on loan for his Victorian connections. Interestingly, it was Blair Orange who landed the winning drive and this year he will partner what is considered the main threat for the All Stars this year in Copy That. Normally the All Stars have large numbers representing the famous livery but this year, they have just the trio of entrants. But its not just any trio with Self Assured, Spankem and Ashley Locaz lining up and all look to be serious players judging by their recent efforts. Purdon will partner race favourite Self Assured with Rasmussen committed to Spankem while Tim Williams takes the lines behind Ashley Locaz. Self Assured was beaten but not disgraced with a hard fought second in the Ashburton Flying Stakes last start while performing nicely in the Cup trial behind his stablemate Spankem. The Bettors Delight gelding has been taken off the unruly and will sport saddlecloth number 11. Millionaire pacer Spankem continues to build nicely for his Cup tilt with a great effort at Ashburton followed by his Cup trial victory but faces a second-line draw, he will carry saddlecloth number 15. Spankem was the beaten favourite last year when second behind Cruz Bromac. Ashley Locaz carries a different form card compared to most following a brief stint in Queensland before returning for the Ashburton and Kaikoura features. Williams is chasing his maiden Cup victory and Ashley Locaz will wear saddlecloth number 12. Last year, the All Stars finished 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th with their four runners. Ironically, the horse that thwarted their winning run was an ex-member of their team in Arden Rooney (2015) who transferred to the Victorian stables of Kerryn Manning when he prevailed over the luckless All Stars runner Smolda. Arden Rooney was raced by Merv and Meg Butterworth and the Victorian based couple race boom pacer Copy That. Will history repeat? The most recent North Island trained winner of the Cup was Changeover (Geoff Small) back in 2008. Copy That is trained by astute horseman Ray Green and his form is outstanding - highlighted by his bold showing in the Ashburton Flying Stakes. The American Ideal entire was the big winner at the barrier draw and will sport saddlecloth number 1. Also representing the North Island is Mach Shard (Barry Purdon & Scott Phelan) plus Triple Eight and Check In (Steve & Amanda Telfer). Master trainer Robert Dunn will also have a trio of chances with Heisenberg, Henry Hubert and Classie Brigade all representing his stable. Both Henry Hubert (6th) and Classie Brigade (3rd) back-up from last year’s Cup. The form of Classie Brigade is outstanding winning four of his last five starts including the New Brighton Cup, Hannon Memorial and the Kaikoura Cup. The brilliant stand start performer will sport saddlecloth number 18 and will be handled by Robert’s son, John. The Dunn family scored with Mainland Banner in the New Zealand Cup back in 2005. Thefixer, a winner of the New Zealand Cup two years ago backs up for another shot at glory following his 5th placing last year behind Cruz Bromac. Now prepared on the beach at Woodend, Thefixer can provide likeable young horsemen Regan Todd and Bob Butt their biggest triumph. Jim Curtin prepares Tango Tara and chases his second victory in the Cup following his win behind Terror To Love back in 2011 while Brian O’Meara also chases his second Cup success with Di Caprio after preparing champion pacer Christian Cullen back in 1998. John ‘Coaster’ Howe lines up Nandolo in the Cup after finishing 7th last year behind Cruz Bromac, the talented pacer will again be handled by Jonny Cox. And representing the ‘south’ is the Ross and Chris Wilson prepared Robyns Playboy, a richly talented five-year-old who scored nicely in the Tuapeka Cup last start. Again, Craig Ferguson will take the drive. The three emergencies for the race are Vintage Cheddar, On The Cards and Wild Excuse. Of the 15 starters, no mare is listed to start. Super sire Bettors Delight has seven runners listed in the field while American Ideal, Mach Three, A Rocknroll Dance, Shadow Play and Betterthancheddar all having two runners each. The Gr.1 $540,000 IRT New Zealand Cup is listed to start at 5.34pm local time. And what a race it is going to be!   Chris Barsby

There are 4 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. W = Doug Watts With 27 Cup drives, Doug Watts had the third most New Zealand Cup drives behind Morrie Holmes (40) and Anthony Butt (30).  Born in Morrinsville in 1906, he is regarded as the sport’s first truly freelance driver. After debuting as a jockey he graduated to harness racing, driving for 41 seasons. He was based in Oamaru for a time before moving to Christchurch in the late 1930s. He won the Cup twice with Integrity (1946) and Our Roger (1955) and was second on four occasions. In 1954 at Reefton he was the first to drive seven winners on the same day, a feat equalled by Tony Herlihy (2001) and Dexter Dunn (2015). Watts died in 1985, aged 79.   HRNZ

Copy That’s trainer Ray Green says next Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup is shaping up as a four or five horse race. Speaking after last night’s Cup trial at Addington where Copy That was not pushed in finishing seventh of seven Green says  he is pleased with how the four-year-old is going ahead of the country’s biggest race. The 2600m trial was won by Spankem in 3.12.3 for driver and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen, ahead of All Stars stablemate Self Assured, who sat parked after a tardy beginning. She’s confident about Spankem a year on from his second placing in last year’s Cup to Cruz Bromac.   HRNZ

A - Z New Zealand Cup : V There are 5 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. V = Van Dieman Known as one of this country’s best stayers Van Dieman won the New Zealand Cup in 1951. It was the first of Cecil Devine’s six New Zealand Cup triumphs between 1951-1979. Van Dieman, owned, driven and trained by Devine, was also third the next year and unplaced in 1953. Devine leased Van Dieman, with right of purchase for $1000, as a two-year-old colt , the horse going on to win 18 races between 1949 and 1954.   HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The Kaikoura Cup is traditionally the final chance to catapult into the New Zealand Cup field, but a late play from trainer Mark Jones is set to have race organisers scrambling. Check In did everything he could to force his way into the great race with his second behind Classie Brigade in Monday’s Group 2 Kaikoura Cup. Under normal circumstances, the Steve and Amanda Telfer trained pacer’s second, after getting a perfect trip in the trail, would produce the biggest rankings bump given he went into the event ranked 18th. However, Mark Jones is about to give the panel that ranks the field some real thinking to do. Jones has put in a late nomination for Burnham Boy, which could have a major impact if the selectors think the Southern Supremacy Stakes winner deserves a starting spot. Jones certainly thinks his horse does and pointed out Burnham Boy has had the measure of some of the top 15 in their previous clashes, after his win at Ascot Park last week. Many of the Kaikoura cup runners – that included Classie Brigade (2nd) Tango Tara (4th), Henry Hubert (8th) Triple Eight (9th), Ashley Locaz (10th), Heisenberg (12th), Nandolo (13th), On The Cards (16th), Check In (18th) and U May Cullect (23rd) – look assured of a start. And that is despite Check In beating home six horses ranked above him. The most certain outcomes from the event look to be On The Cards and U May Cullect now missing a New Zealand Cup starts following their 9th and 10th placings on Monday. Nandolo looks the most vulnerable of the other Kaikoura starters, despite his good effort for sixth, just over two lengths from the winner. But his position in the rankings looks a lot more solid than those of Di Caprio (14th) and Vintage Cheddar (15th). Both could be leapfrogged by both Check In and Burnham Boy and miss Cup starts. But the pair could easily hold on to their starting spots if the judging panel deem Check In and Burnham Boy’s efforts over the past week do not warrant them top 15 spots. Outside of Robert and John Dunn and the Classie Brigade camp, no one walked away from the Kaikoura Cup more pleased than Steve and Amanda Telfer. Check In gave himself a massive chance of starting in the New Zealand Cup with his second and Triple Eight went his best race since September when fourth, just over a length from the winner. “It will be what it is with Check In, it is just good to have him back going well again,” Steve Telfer said. “He has got good manners and he won’t disgrace himself if he gets in.” “He is that type of horse – he steps and puts himself in a good position and you rely on luck from there.” Triple Eight’s New Zealand Cup prospects looked bleak following his prior two starts at Alexandra Park. But the pacer looked more like the horse that ran third in last season’s Interdominion Pacing Final and Auckland Cup with his close up fourth on Monday. “He went really well first up, but I think the run flattened him,” Telfer said. “Then he has just been so-so in his next runs.” “But we did some more testing and we found some areas to improve on, so we worked on them for a couple of weeks.” “He went to the trials last week and he was quite good.” “Obviously he is a lot more like himself and he should get a lot of benefit from today’s run.” The permutations for the Dominion following the group 3 South Bay Trotters’ Cup look a little more simple than the Kaikoura Cup. Majestic Lavros, ranked 21st, has a fighting chance of getting a start in the 3200m feature with his win in Monday’s feature. Midnight Dash should get a slight bump up from 22nd with his third placing. Destiny Jones could freefall from 9th out of the top 15 after weakening from the 700m. The mare was found to have been suffering from a respiratory condition. The New Zealand Cup field will be finalised on Wednesday. Spots in the Dominion are still up for grabs in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup Day.

By Jonny Turner     Southern sensation U May Cullect is one several horses ready to put it all on the line in a last ditch play to qualify for the New Zealand Cup at Kaikoura on Monday. The Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis trained pacer steps out alongside Step In and On The Cards, who will also be out to propel themselves in to a top-15 New Zealand Cup starting spot by winning the Kaikoura Cup. U May Cullect goes in to the 2400m feature ranked 23rd on the order of entry for the great race, after starting his spring campaign with three below par performances. So far this time in, the Southern hero has yet to produce the kind of sensational performances that saw burst on to the harness racing and gain a cult-like following. But the feeling among his camp is U May Cullect is ready to show his best at Kaikoura. “He has been staying up at Benny Hill’s and he is really happy with him,” owner Tom Kilkelly said. “We have had the farrier and the vet to him and we think we have got him pretty right.” “Kirstin went up to work him, because she knows the horse and she would be able to tell just how good he was going.” “She worked him with one of Benny’s horses and said to me that when he sprinted up he went straight past the other horse and pricked his ears.” “And she said she was worried she was going that fast she might not make it around the bend.” A run of unpredictable Southland weather is the main reason U May Cullect has remained in Canterbury since his last start. The seven-year-old’s work suggest that move is already paying off. “With the weather we have had down home you wouldn’t want him here,” Kilkelly said. Even if he is in the best form of his life, U May Cullect is not going to be a factor in the Kaikoura Cup if he can not step away. The pacer goes in to the race after stepping away nicely in the Canterbury Classic, a much improved effort on his wild early gallop in the Hannon Memorial “He has got to make a good beginning, that is main thing,” Kilkelly said. “He didn’t have shorteners in at Oamaru when he galloped, so he had excuses there.” “He had them in in his last start and Kirstin is going to pull them up another hole at Kaikoura.” It will not just be those outside the New Zealand Cup’s top 15 that need to impress at Kaikoura. Heisenberg (12th) and Nandolo (13th) will both need to put in good performances to avoid being leapfrogged by the trio rated below them. Qualifying positions for the Dominion are also up for grabs in the South Bay Trotters’ Cup at Kaikoura on Monday. Majestic Lavros is rated the 10th favourite for the 3200m feature, above many of the current top 15 for the race, but needs a good ranking bump to get a start. The Mark Jones trained six-year-old effectively needs to win on Monday to have any chance of qualifying for the Dominion from his current ranking of 21st. Midnight Dash is in a similar position going in to the South Bay Trotters’ Cup, ranked 22nd. Matua Tana looks the horse most in need of a good performance to cement his spot inside the Dominion’s top 15. The Greg and Nina Hope trained seven-year-old goes into the 2400m feature ranked 13th. The out of form Destiny Jones looks well placed in her 9th position, but is at risk of sliding down the rankings after disappointing in two runs this time in.

There are 8 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. S = Soangetaha Before Soangetaha’s third placing in 1953 the great Derek Jones had had more than 20 drives in the New Zealand Cup and had never finished in the money. It’s a remarkable stat for one of the greats of the sport. Soangetaha (Light Brigade – Polka Dot) was the first top-liner he’d trained and won 15 races from 81 starts including two Auckland Cups in 1951 and 1952 but he couldn’t win the New Zealand Cup, starting in the great race four times (1952-55). As a trainer Jones will forever be associated with New Zealand Cup winners and Addington legends Hands Down and Blossom Lady.   HRNZ

There are 9 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. R = Robin The 1984 New Zealand Cup belonged to R.D. (Robin) Butt and Camelot after a squirmish with 700 metres to go put an end to the chances of seven rivals. Camelot, the favourite, edged out pacemaker Dillon Dale and Hands Down to give the then 41 year old Butt his biggest moment in racing. Altogether he drove 387 winners (1961-2009). Robin Butt is the father of David, and grand-father of Bob and part of the wider Butt-Jones-Prendergast-Dalgety family. Robin’s nephew Anthony Butt won three New Zealand Cups with Flashing Red (2006 -2007) and Blossom Lady (1992).   HRNZ

There are 11 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. P = Pringle Andy Pringle had an unusual relationship with the New Zealand Cup. In his first two drives in the great race he was tipped out of the sulky. Then in 1914 he triumphed on the aptly-named Win Soon. The combo won by four lengths after the favourite Don Caesar and second favourite Denver Huon both skipped at the start. Win Soon was the first Southland-bred horse to win the Cup.   HRNZ

There are 12 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities  with a new letter for each day. O = O’Sullivan      Australian legend Jim O’Sullivan tasted New Zealand Cup victory with  My Lightning Blue in 1987, beating Luxury Liner and Skipper Dale by one and a a quarter lengths. It completed a memorable double as the combo had earlier won the Interdominion final at Addington in March, beating Paleface Bubble and Sunset Candios.   It took until 2015 before another Aussie won the Cup and that was when Kerryn Manning became the first female driver ever to win the race, with the Australian connection continuing into last year when Cruz Bromac prevailed for Geelong-based owner Danny Zavitsanos.   Note : there are some disturbances in the video footage of Lightning Blue’s NZ Cup win.   HRNZ

Even the northerners who didn’t shine at Ashburton on Monday are still all go for Cup week at Addington. While Copy That and American Dealer flew the northern flag with pride, there was a couple of speed bumps for established northern stars Temporale and Mach Shard, who were both unplaced. But Temporale is still on target for Cup week even after a disappointing Flying Mile. The former Rowe Cup winner raced well below his best when sixth on Monday even though that was still good enough for a 1:55.7 time. The best version of Temporale, the one who pushed Bolt For Brilliance close three starts ago, would have stayed a lot closer to winner Majestic Man after sitting on his back in the trail. But Temporale struggled on the bends, particularly the last one when he lost Majestic Man’s back and then one-batted in the straight. “We were disappointed in him,” admitted co-trainer Michelle Wallis. “He wasn’t happy on the bends and really he should be better than that as he has done so much racing left-handed now and was good in Australia. “So we took a blood off him and will add a pole for his next start.” Wallis will resist the temptation to take Temporale, who is staying with David and Catherine Butt, to the Cup trials at Addington next week. “It is straight into the Free-For-All and then at this stage on to the Dominion.” Another horse who didn’t race up to his best on Monday was Mach Shard, who finished second last in the Flying Stakes. “I would have liked to see him hold the back of Spankem,” said co-trainer Barry Purdon. “So I was disappointed in the run but he isn’t the first horse I have had go to Ashburton and go like that,” says Purdon. “It can shock some of them because those leaders never come back to them so I am willing to forgive him. “So he will go to the Cup trial now and on to the Cup.” Purdon and training partner Scott Phelan will bring On The Cards and Bad To The Bone to Kaikoura on Monday, with On The Cards also likely heading to the Cup although as this stage he sits one spot outside the final 15 guaranteed a start.   By Michael Guerin

With Copy That catapulting himself into joint favouritism for the New Zealand Cup 75-year-old trainer Ray Green's becoming a small screen star. He has been in demand since Copy That's win in the Ashburton Flying Stakes with Newshub the latest major media outlet to profile both horse and trainer in its 6pm news last night.  

There are 13 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. N = Neroship Neroship realized a dream for trainer-driver Langdon in 1990. Born and raised in Christchurch the then 15-year-old skipped school to watch Lordship win the Cup in 1962. Despite not coming from a racing family he dreamed of emulating the feat and in 1990 he did just that with his horse, the pace-setting Neroship edging out Starship and Kylie’s Hero. Langdon also won the 1989 Auckland Cup with Neroship and claimed an Interdominion pacers and trotters double in 1975 with Young Quinn and Castleton’s pride.   HRNZ

There are 14 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities  with a new letter for each day. M = Million     Only twice has the New Zealand Cup been worth a million dollars. In 2008 it was worth $1.2m with winner Changeover netting an impressive $650,000 for trainer Geoff Small and driver David Butcher. In 2009 the stake was exactly one million dollars with Monkey King winning the first of his two New Zealand Cups. The win was worth $538,860 for trainer Brendon Hill, driver Ricky May and owner Robert Famularo.   HRNZ

It’s 15 days to the New Zealand Cup. From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities  with a new letter for each day. L = Lord Module Lord Module in 1979 was Cecil Devine’s 19th and last Cup drive. A winner of the great race 6 times (1951-79) Devine had reached the compulsory driving retirement age of 65. After missing away Lord Module was wide at the turn and charged home out of the ruck to win in 4:09.It was widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Cup runs ever. His sire Lordship won the Cup twice in 1962/66 as did his sire Johnny Globe in 1954.   HRNZ

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