Faheys shooting for New Zealand Cup number 10

Rock On John is back to defend his title in the $100,000 Group 1 New Zealand Cup. Photo credit: Dave Robbie.


Jean and Dave Fahey have over 100 Group race winners to their names and on Thursday night, the husband-wife training combination will aim to win their 10th New Zealand Cup.

And with three runners in this year’s $100,000 Group One feature, their odds are looking pretty good.

Opawa Superstar has come up with Box 7 in the final, and the talented youngster is aptly named. He won his heat in 29.89 in a dominant display off Box 2, and went on to win his semi-final in 30 seconds flat last Wednesday night off Box 3, where he recovered well after an early check.

Remarkably, the son of Fernando Bale and Opawa Tab doesn’t turn two until February, and he’s already won 11 from 13 races.

“He seems to find a way to win,” says Dave Fahey.

“He’s got everything. He’s got box speed, but he’s got strength as well and he doesn’t mind pushing through a gap. He’s the best chance of mine in the race.”

Fairly Able, who finished third in the Gr. 2 Canterbury Futurity back in August, has come up with Box 2, and her early pace should prove an asset in the big dance.

She caused a huge upset when leading throughout in 30.18 in her semi-final, and holding off the late challenge of Tokyo Bird.

“I definitely want to see her on the pace. I don’t think she can go much quicker than she did in her semi-final, but she’s not afraid to push them around.

“She also moves out slightly, so she could get in Leonard Bale’s (Box 3) face a touch.”

The Faheys also line up reigning New Zealand Cup champion Rock On John, and he will don the blue rug on Thursday night.

He finished second behind Leonard Bale off Box 6 in his semi-final, and also finished second in his heat the prior week after leading most of the way.

“When he won last year, he was coming up through the grades,” remembers Fahey.

“But after he won, he wasn’t the same dog. Then, he came back into really good form, before he hurt himself when he was one of the favourites for the Futurity at Wanganui.

“He’s starting to come back to form now though. I was hoping he’d draw inside Leonard Bale, but you can’t do much about the draws.

“If he can clear them early, and there’s any trouble in behind, he could definitely win it.”

Earlier in the night, the Faheys also have a sole representative in Nevada Phil in the Gr. 1 The Fitz Sports Bar New Zealand Galaxy over 295m, a race which they won back in 2010 with Octane Spark and 2015 with Paperbond.

The son of Barcia Bale and Kalani Klare finished second from Box 6 in his semi-final on Wednesday behind Victoria Lu, and he will jump from Box 4 in the $30,000 final.

“He can begin well occasionally, so he will need to do that,” opines Fahey. “But he would be better drawn out in Box 8, and he might be in trouble drawn where he is.”

In the $30,000 Gr. 1 Camside Stud New Zealand Stayers Cup, Student Loan is back to defend his title, after finishing six lengths behind Uthor Bale off Box 6 in his heat. He settled last early and stayed there for a long time, before eventually picking a path through them and storming home to grab second.

“He had a nervous breakdown,” says Fahey. “He freaked out and he just didn’t want to know early.

“He’s a machine, but sometimes he just doesn’t want to race, and it was good he got going again.

“You can tell when he’s good; he’s wagging his tail in the stir-up. And that’s been happening all the time lately, but not before his heat.

“He’s capable of winning it. I’ll be working on him and counselling him this week! We’ll have a few sessions and I’ll get into his head,” laughs Fahey.

By Liz Whelan

Posted on 11 November 2021

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