Blazin’ Master comes out on top in TAB Auckland Cup

Blazin’ Master ran down Opawa Superstar to win the Group 1 TAB Auckland Cup on Sunday.

Sunday’s running of the $80,000 TAB Auckland Cup turned into an epic paw wrestle with the Group 1 527m event only being decided within the shadows of the finish line.

It was an enthralling afternoon of racing action, with a large crowd assembled at Manukau Stadium.

The Cup field featured the last two Auckland Cup winners, and it was the Dave and Jean Fahey-prepared 2022 winner Opawa Superstar who won the break to set up the initial pace.

Ranging up alongside him when heading into the first turn was the Lisa Cole-trained Blazin’ Master, while the local hope Sweet Potential slotted herself just in behind the lead pair for her conditioner Sean Codlin.

That race order remained the same when the field streamed down the back straight; however, the race developed into an intense affair, with Blazin’ Master applying the pressure onto Opawa Superstar when sitting on his outside, refusing to flinch.

The pair were still locked together rounding the final turn, along with Sweet Potential attempting to sniff out a gap while making her play for victory.

It was within sight of the finish when Blazin’ Master finally mastered Opawa Superstar to help himself to another Group 1 victory when extending out to a 1.25 length winning margin, stopping the clock in 30.38 seconds.

It was a gutsy race that Opawa Superstar delivered, with this being an unprecedented third consecutive year that this son of Fernando Bale and Opawa Tab has contested (luckless last year) this premier race.

Sweet Potential was gallant in the manner that she stuck to her task when clinging on for her deserved third placing, holding out the fast-finishing Matt Roberts-trained Silky Adobe by half a head.

“Yes, he improved a fair bit between his heat and the final. He’s a classy greyhound and it took a lot of guts for him to sit outside Opawa Superstar the whole way,

“He really put them away strongly during the run home, pulling away from the others. It was a fantastic run by Blazin’ Master – he’s a very, very nice dog,” commented Brendon Cole about the seventh Auckland Cup winner that the Palmerston North based kennels has now mentored.

“Little Miss Ella (daughter) watched the race at 3am in Paris. She’s currently having a whale of a time up in Europe,” reported her father.

Blazin’ Master was the only Australian-bred Auckland Cup finalist and he’s the current New Zealand Derby title holder. He’s now has gathered a number of feature race victories, along with being the runner-up in the last New Zealand Cup.

The son of Mepunga Blazer and Mepunga Molly is raced by Angela Smith, who has now benefited from the $216,616 in stake earnings he has won, the result of 21 wins and 31 minors from his 70 career races.

“Angela and her husband Barry have been very complimentary to us right from the day Blazin’ Master arrived here. They leave all racing decisions totally to us and have supported us throughout his journey over here,” expressed Cole.

It was another successful premier meeting for the Cole team, with daughter Georgia returning home with her brother Max and kennel worker Kimmy Read-Jones with four winners on board.

“Kimmy is a worker for our kennels who is also studying at Massey University. She first became involved with greyhounds when walking dogs for her uncle Gary Caffell,” advised Cole. Caffell was a successful Wairarapa-based trainer many years ago and he is the current mayor of Masterton.

Cole says they will keep on ticking Blazin’ Master over, with a trip to Christchurch likely to be his next big assignment for their premier meeting scheduled at Addington for 22 February.


Group 1 Railway Sprint


El Padrino caused a huge upset to win the Group 1 Railway Sprint.

There is a saying in life that “there’s no substitute for experience”. That experience factor strongly came into play with the running of the $30,000 Railway Sprint final at Group 1 level.

Local conditioner Phil Green had said pre-race that he felt his finalist El Padrino faced a difficult task owing to his lack of early pace, although adding that he would try his best.

Bring in that experience factor, as the veteran trainer explains.

“I knew that if he was going to be any chance, I had to do anything I could to get him to jump cleanly, especially with the pace that was drawn around him.

“So, I cut back his work leading into the race and slightly increased his body weight in an effort to get him to jump. It worked out great!”

It sure did!

When the Manukau 318m traps lifted, it was the white racing vest worn by El Padrino that was first sighted and that effectively was game, set and match for the Group 1 sprint, as El Padrino is a known very strong sprinter, and he used that strength to lead throughout to clock his personal best 18.27 time.

Sweet Parker was gallant when finishing just half a length behind after he gamely chased the pacemaker throughout. It’s only a matter of time before his young trainer Sean Codlin secures his first Group 1 training success.

Another 1.75 lengths back, a tight battle for third placing unfolded, which resulted in the Lisa Cole-prepared Big Time Zola holding out Portland Craik (Lisa and Tracey Craik) by a half a head margin.

This victory was all about the astute training performance by Phil Green in the manner that he guided the $41.20 winner to his victory, and in doing so, he annexed back-to-back Railway Sprint training wins after he prepared Up Your Quota to stylishly win last year’s edition.  

There were scenes of sheer elation witnessed in front of the stand, where members of El Padrino’s owing Upper Hutt Cossie and Company syndicate viewed the sprint.

The Upper Hutt Cossie syndicate has been racing greyhounds for many decades, dating back to the pre-old Hutt Park racing days. The syndicate was formed by the former greyhound scribe Dean Candy and they have successfully (and vocally) raced greyhounds who were originally trained by Wairarapa stalwarts John Hill and Owen Gardner.            

Syndicate members attended Saturday’s massive Ellerslie thoroughbred meeting, having shares in the TAB Karaka Millions 2YO creditable fourth placegetter Bellatrix Star, and syndicate spokesman Peter Raven informs us on how they came to race El Padrino.

“Calum Weir trained him for his first 30 odd races (five wins), then he suggested to us that he would be more competitive racing up north. We eventually got Phil to take him and as they say, the rest is now history.

“We can’t thank Phil enough for what he has achieved – he’s a marvel training him to win the Group 1 sprint, as he isn’t a young greyhound,” added Raven about the 4.3-year-old son of Keybow and Flying Amelia (oldest in the field), who has now won $55,370, the result of 14 wins and 27 placings from his 80 race day appearances.  

Let’s go back to another familiar saying – “Perseverance certainly pays off”!

El Padrino crosses the finish line first in the Group 1 Railway Sprint. Photo credit: Rhian Farrell.

Terrific support card racing

Grande Vue Ace provided Bob Pringle with another feature race win. Photo credit: Rhian Farrell.

Manukau Stadium was really humming throughout the TAB Auckland Cup meeting, with a wide range of exceptional racing, over three race distances, being witnessed during the premier afternoon of chasing action.

The stayers promised to deliver a competitive 779m race, such was the even nature of the field of quality stayers. And so, it proved with an enthralling race unfolding.

Firstly, it was Opawa Wine (Sean Codlin) who set up the initial tempo, then Spread The Load (Dave and Jean Fahey) took over the pace with a lap of the track to run.

Stalking the pair throughout was the current New Zealand Stayers Cup title holder, Grande Vue Ace, and when she railed around the final turn and strongly extended during the run home, the $15,000 Auckland Stayers Cup was hers for the keeping.

Geraldine owner-trainer Bob Pringle had brought his pride and joy north to deliver an eye-catching 527m third the previous Sunday and that tactic paid off in spades, as the daughter of Dyna Dave and Replica Casino delivered her very impressive, powerful 46.26 gallop, advancing her career stake earnings to a shade under $80,000.

Bring on the June running of the 779m Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar! 


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 31 January 2024

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