NEWS PREVIEW

Confidence-booster in Gingernuts camp

Gingernuts is the raging hot favourite for Saturday’s Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings after his last-start win in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate and the son of Iffraaj is poised to line up a fortnight later in the $A3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Raced by the Te Akau Gingernuts Syndicate and prepared at Matamata by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, Gingernuts will be using all three legs of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown to be ready for his big assignment at Caulfield.
He finished an unlucky fifth in the first leg, the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy, and his performance in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate has punters confident he can leave New Zealand in winning form.
It’s the same path which Princess Coup first took 10 years ago and steering her in that direction was Walker, who was in charge of Te Akau Racing’s Matamata operation.
Walker has been keeping close tabs on the progress of Gingernuts, who first burst into the Group One limelight when winning the New Zealand Derby over the Caulfield Cup distance last March. Gingernuts then won the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas before a solid fifth to Jon Snow in the Gr.1 ATC Australian Derby.
“Mark was back here last week and he brought up Princess Coup running in all three legs at Hastings,” Autridge said. “All along we had been debating whether to stay here for all three with Gingernuts then go over or go over earlier.
“He said Princess Coup got better with each one and not to worry about running Gingernuts in all three.
“He said she should have won the Caulfield Cup and the next one, too. “
Princess Coup first tackled the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown in 2007 when 11th in the first leg, then third to Seachange in the second leg and a thrilling winner of the final leg in an exciting four-way finish. She then went on to finish third to Master O’Reilly in the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup and second to Sirmione in the Gr.1 MacKinnon Stakes before having no luck in Efficient’s Gr.1 Melbourne Cup.
She did contest the Triple Crown again the following year, running ninth in the first leg and winning the next two legs before contesting the Cox Plate (ninth) instead of the Caulfield Cup.
The Melbourne Cup is also on the radar for Gingernuts, but Autridge points out it is not the priority.
“The Caulfield Cup has always been the number one aim and we’ll make our minds up after that about the Melbourne Cup,” Autridge said.
As for the Livamol Classic build-up, Autridge couldn’t be happier with Gingernuts. “He’s never been better. He’s at the top of his game,” he said.
Even the outside draw hasn’t dampened Autridge’s confidence over his prospects.
“I’m happier that he’s drawn out there than one, two or three,” he said. “From out there he can get back beyond midfield and even if he drops out to last I won’t be worried. Opie (Bosson) can go round them whenever he wants and not be dictated to as he would be if he’d drawn in.”
Bosson did throw one scare into the Gingernuts camp when tossed off first-starter Owen Patrick (named after him) at Ruakaka on Wednesday. Owen Patrick was favourite and declared a late scratching.
“It was a bit of a scare seeing Opie on the ground, but he’s fine apart from a few bruises,” Autridge said. “He wouldn’t want to miss this one.”
Gingernuts is booked to be flown to Melbourne next Wednesday and it’s possible stablemate and race rival Chance To Dance could join him in Australia.
“He’s been eliminated from the Caulfield Cup because he hadn’t met the criteria for the last 18 months, but then soon after he won the Listed race at Counties. It was just too late,” Autridge said. “We could take a look at some of the country cups over there for him.
“He’s an eight-year-old who has been around the world and he’s so genuine. And, like Gingernuts, he’s flying at the moment.”
Autridge said he was pleasantly surprised by Chance To Dance’s fresh-up win in the Listed Karaka Classic (1600m) at Pukekohe.
“I knew he’d run a good race, but I didn’t think he’d go that good. He’d been sparring up with Gingernuts in work and he’s still been working with him. There’s not much between them.”
Autridge rates Chance To Dance (to be ridden by Leith Innes) more than just a second string in the Livamol Classic.
“If he got the run and Gingernuts didn’t, he could beat him. He’s going that well,” Autridge said.

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