Pinny Mac Primed For Auckland Cup Return

GROUP 1 racing heads to Manakua Stadium this Sunday with five heats of the rich $90,000 Auckland Cup set down for decision over the 527 metres.

Peter Fenemor

21 February 2020

IT’s all about group 1 racing in New Zealand this Sunday afternoon with Manukau Stadium playing host to five heats of the $90,000 Auckland Cup (527m) and five heats of the Qualified Pet Services Railway Sprint (318m). 

The Auckland Cup heats sees the first three finishers in last year’s series return. All three have had their issues in recent times.  

The current New Zealand Cup title holder Pinny Mack (race 9) has been installed as the NZ TAB Futures favourite at $7.50 which illustrates just how open the series is after his third placing last year. 

He has raced just once,  in a Spion Rose Cup heat, since his November 14 NZ Cup. Rightfully his conditioner Steve Clark is concerned about the light preparation his charge has received, but he also pointed out that it was a similar prep that he had going into his NZ Cup campaign.

Diddilee (race 7) was last year’s Auckland Cup winner and his conditioner Angela Turnwald last presented him to the track on December 6. He trialled over 457m in a moderate 26.22s at the Manawatu Raceway on Monday.

Ringside (race 6) has had a better lead up preparation and his master trainer Ray Adcock produced him to stylishly win a Manawatu 457m event in 26.03s and he’s looking at going one better after his second placing last year.   

Canterbury conditioner Craig Roberts is launching a serious assault on the Auckland Cup, aiming five more than handy chasers at it.

His perennial Group 1 finalist Dyna Dave (race 7) is still searching for his first victory at the very elite level. He’s had eight cracks at them which has yielded him with five seconds and a third. 

Xabil Bale (race 6) impressed in the strong manner she won Thursday’s feature Addington 520m event in 30.28s. Uthor Bale (race 10) is bringing sound Addington form north and he draws ideally in the one trap in his heat.

Oster Bale (race 8) owns sufficient early pace to feature from his eight draw. Roberts is returning Avenger Bale (race 9) to the races after having last been presented in early December. He has contested the last two Auckland Cup finals and his ace trap draw can see him return for a third crack at the Cup next Sunday.

When it comes to mentoring Kiwi Group 1 winners, there are no better than Dave and Jean Fahey. Spring Falcon (race 6), Go Vegas (race 7), Opawa Toddy (race 8), Von Strass (race 9) and Opawa Nat (race 10) all hold advancement claims in their respective heats.

Gary Cleeve is another trainer making the long road trip north from his Canterbury base. On board will be his recent slick Addington 29.96s winner Pearls Are Us (race 7) who has drawn perfectly in the eight trap.

Know Refusal (race 8) boldly won the 527m NZ Sires at Group 2 level at this venue last season. Expect him to be sighted doing his best work at the business end here.

The nation’s leading trainer Lisa Cole has a sprinkling of contenders scattered through the heats.

She’s lining up her recent Hatrick 520m Group 1 winner Bigtime Bruno (race 7), while perhaps Bigtime Rod (race 6) and Big Time Seth (race 9) can represent the high flying kennel in the final.

The short course sprinters promise to deliver sizzling 318m sprinting action with the race four clash between last November’s Group 1 Galaxy Sprint Jared Udy and Denise Cottam trained winner Buddy Boom and the runner up Bolty (beaten a head) for Dan Lane promising to be an absolute cracker. 

Lisa Cole has the $4 series favourite Trojan Horse (race 5) perfectly boxed in the ace trap as he seeks to win his 13th sprint from his last 14 races. The indestructible Sir Duggie (race 3) has drawn the same trap as he chases after his 60th career win.

Canterbury conditioner Calum Weir mentored Swimming Goat to his Railway Sprint win two years ago and he has his sharp Addington Thursday 17.11s 295m winner Select Trick (race 1) lining up.

Archie John Hill (race 3) warmed up for this task by delivering his tidy Addington Thursday 17.10s 295m win for Dave and Jean Fahey.