Auckland Cup Field Full Of Winning Contenders

The 2020 edition of the Auckland Cup sure has been the most talked about Cup for a long time and the $90,000 blue-ribbon event hasn’t even been raced yet. It will be an extremely competitive field who will parade to the Manukau Stadium 527m traps on Sunday afternoon.

Pictured: Pinny Mack will looking to add the Auckland Cup to his current NZ Cup title


There are numerous possible scenarios on the possible outcome of the Group 1 event. Let’s take a look at the field which commentator Peter Earley will call in what will be his 48th Auckland Cup commentary.  


Master conditioner Ray Adcock guided last year’s Auckland Cup runner up Ringside ($4 & $1.60 – TAB Final Field) through to deliver the quickest time from the four completed 527m heats last Sunday. It was a professional effort this fella produced when returning 30.32s for his effort. He is more than capable of being able to serve up a repeat win from his three trap draw.


“He isn’t the dog he was last year (30.14s heat win) owing to some issues he’s had since then, but in saying that he still has to rate as a top chance. He’s like his older brother (Ring The Bell) as he looks after himself – he’s a professional greyhound,” advised Adcock.


That was a super training effort by Steve Clark to not only get his New Zealand Cup winner Pinny Mack ($3.80 & $1.45) ready for the heats but to come out and win it in 30.73s. Yes, the dual Group 1 winning chaser has had his problems since his emphatic NZ Cup victory back in November.


He copped an injury when he contested a heat for the Group 1 Spion Rose Cup two weeks after his cup win and that has seen him being parked on the side-line since then. He can only be improved following his bold heat assignment.


“It doesn’t matter where Pinny draws – he’s effective from any trap. Actually, I think being out in the seven can help him, especially if there’s any inside pressure. Yes, he will take benefit from his recent trial and his heat race. Hey, at the end of the day he’s there and it was a big effort by him to make it (into final). He has had a good week since Sunday,” added Clark.


It has been a bitter/sweet week for Canterbury trainer Craig Roberts. Sweet as he had his perennial Group 1 finalist Dyna Dave ($4 & $1.60) drawn out in the eight trap after he was given the nod under the GRNZ rules when he was deemed a finalist following the abandonment of the heat he was racing in owing to a lure failure. Can Dave finally annex an elusive Group 1 title in his ninth crack at an elite race – he’s had five seconds and a third placing.


“Dave is what he is. As usual, the early stages will be key for him. I have no doubt he is good enough to make his presence felt – it’s a case what type of run will he get around the first turn. I had to give him more work during the week which he handled good,” said Roberts.


Oster Bale ($6 & $2.15) had to be strong, very strong to claim victory in his heat which he nailed in 30.77s. He was stuck in early traffic where he suffered from a degree of jostling. Unfazed he pick his way past his heat rivals, unwinding strongly to book his place in the cup final field.


“He tried and he tried to get racing room – he just couldn’t get a run through them with a wall of dogs in front of him. Once he got the gaps, he was off and gone. He’s a very strong dog and I guess it will come down to what sort of run he gets from his poor draw (five). He pulled up okay,” said Roberts.



Sunday Auckland Cup contenders (from left): Ringside; Pinny Mack, Dyna Dave; Oster Bale


The bitter part for Roberts came when his 30.45s heat winner Uthor Bale was scratched after he failed to overturn a failing to pursue the lure ruling made against his charge at an appeal hearing on Thursday. Uthor Bale was deemed to have turned his heat outwards when free of interference on leaving the boxes.


“It was no surprise he didn’t get off it. The definition of that part of the rule needs to be changed – he was judged on just the first meter of his race when I consider he was balancing after making an awkward start,” Roberts stated.    


Cambridge trainer Peter Ferguson knows how to win an Auckland Cup, at least in the Harness version having driven two previous cup winners. He is now seeking the greyhound version and he has qualified two handy contenders for his attempt to achieve that.


Robson ($12 & $3.40) stylishly won this season’s Group 1 Waterloo Cup at this venue and he displayed a welcome glimpse of the form when he delivered his sound 5.5 length heat second to Uthor Bale. He must take up a forward early possie from his handy two trap draw on Sunday. 


“He had been trialling as good as ever going into the cup heats. We have done a few things different with him which seems to be paying off as he’s a very happy dog. That was more like his old self last Sunday, especially when he overcame a first turn check. He has come through that run a box of birds and we couldn’t be happier with him” suggested Ferguson.


Kennelmate Silenci ($12 & $3.40) has been provided with the one trap to race from. Geez, he was brave in the manner he overcame interference during the run home to stick to his task when finishing just a neck behind Pinny Mack. He is compiling sound looking Manukau 527m stats and his postrace podium claims cannot be lightly dismissed.


“Yes, that was a gutsy effort by him to stick to his guns when he was hindered in his heat. He is a really good dog who is still on his way up. He deserves to be there, and he has some very excited owners. His preparation has gone good during the week,” added Ferguson.


There’s one confirmed result that is known prior to the Auckland Cup being decided. The Big Time kennels will receive the $1,000 Breeders bonus that is paid to the first New Zealand bred greyhound to finish in the Group 1 event. Lisa Cole provides both of them from her dominant kennel.


After a number of unplaced Manukau races Bigtime Rod ($10 & $2.90) finally came to terms with the circuit when he produced his bold one-length second to Ringside. In doing so he returned the second fastest overall heat time. He has been a previous dual Group 1 finalist. 


“He doesn’t have any early pace and it will depend on how Rod gets around the first turn in what is a very even field. He is a very capable greyhound who is strong. We can’t fault him going into Sunday,” said Brendon Cole.


Kennelmate Big Time Izzy ($12 & $3) will now slot away into the four trap after the up and coming 25kg chaser was super bold in her heat when she set up the pace. She only yielded during the run home when she was claimed by Oster Bale by a 1.5 length margin.


“Potentially she has enough early pace to lead the field out and who knows what can happen if she does so. I feel she got a bit lost going into the final turn and we expect her to take improvement from her heat. She has come through her heat in great shape,” Cole said.


The Cole kennels also supplies the one remaining reserve with Big Time Ocean who received her spot from the abandoned heat. She is a midget sized 24kg chaser who also owns volumes of early pace. She was leading her heat rivals when the lure came to its abrupt stop. She had delivered pace making prior Hatrick 520m wins.



Sunday Auckland Cup contenders (from left): Robson; Silenci; Bigtime Rod; Big Time Izzy; Big Time Ocean


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 28 February 2020

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