Mepunga Ruby’s Shining Association Cup Bid

ALL the talk leading into the heats of the Group 1 Association Cup at Wentworth Park last Saturday night centred on boom NSW stayer Zipping Kansas.

Gerard Guthrie

9 April 2022

ALL the talk leading into the heats of the Group 1 Association Cup (720m) at Wentworth Park last Saturday night centred on boom NSW stayer Zipping Kansas.

After smashing Bulli’s 590m track record and clocking a near-record 41.27sec over 715m at Sandown Park at his previous two starts, Zipping Kansas dominated TAB’s ‘All In’ Association Cup market at $1.60 and stifled betting on the first of two heats at $1.30.

But someone forgot to tell leading Victorian trainer Jeff Britton and his G1 Super Stayers heroine Mepunga Ruby.

While Mepunga Ruby was a flying 41.64sec winner of the G2 Summer Distance Plate at her previous Wentworth Park appearance in January, she was sent out at $4.20 in her return to Sydney.

Drawn in Box 4, the last start G1 WA Galaxy runner-up came out running and while Zipping Kansas recovered from a slow start to eyeball her, Mepunga Ruby refused to surrender the lead, and in fact drew clear in the home straight, scoring by 2.5L in 41.84sec.

The victory improved Mepunga Ruby’s imposing record to 21 from 35, while the daughter of Fernando Bale and Mepunga Rosie has now won three of her four starts at Wentworth Park.

“I thought we were going to find it hard to win the race,” Jeff Britton admitted.

“I was thinking we were pretty stiff to draw against Zipping Kansas in the heats after his win at Sandown and how well he went time-wise.

“When Zipping Kansas ranged up next to her, I thought he was going to blow her away, but she just kicked.

“She was terrific. I think it was one of the best runs I’ve seen her put in. Her first two runs at Wentworth Park were a bit disappointing but all of a sudden, she’s really taken to the track.

“It’s a shame it wasn’t the final. We’re just hoping she can do it again!”

Britton added a second string to his Association Cup bow when Hank The Hustler, runner-up to Mepunga Ruby in the Summer Distance Plate, ran second to local Super Estrella (42.10sec) in heat two.

Despite lowering Zipping Kansas’ colours last week, Mepunga Ruby is $4 in TAB’s market on Saturday night’s $75,000 to-the-winner Association Cup final, Race 7 at 8.27pm, with Zipping Kansas $1.90 favourite.

Hank The Hustler is a $14 outsider, while Andrea Dailly’s three-time G1 winner Gypsy Wyong is at $13.

“The final is always a harder race,” Britton said.

“We’re hoping Mepunga Ruby can get out and lead again, but that won’t be as easy with Super Estrella and Gypsy Wyong in the race, and Hank The Hustler has some early speed too.”

Britton also has Boston Garden contesting the star-studded G3 The Ambrosoli, a Golden Easter Egg Consolation, where his opposition includes Andrea Dailly’s G1-winning duo, Lala Kiwi and Zippy Tesla, and local powerhouse Zipping Kyrgios.

“Boston Garden loves ‘the red’ but it’s a really good field and isn’t far off being an Easter Egg itself,” Britton offered.

“We’ll be hoping he can get out well and things go his way.”