Hot on the heels of its Telecom Derby Day last Saturday, Auckland's Cup Week celebrates further elite level racing action with the staging of the Stella Artois Auckland Cup Day on Wednesday.
Held at Ellerslie racecourse, the day features the Gr.1 Stella Artois Auckland Cup (3200m), and boasts a strong undercard courtesy of the Gr.3 Darley Plate (1200m) and the Listed Mercedes-Benz Sunline Vase (2100m).
Each race is distinguished as follows...
Group One Stella Artois Auckland Cup (3200m)
Six O'Clock News (NZ) primed to make Group One headlines
By the champion sire Zabeel and from the Gr.1 Avondale Cup winner Maurine, Six O’Clock News (NZ) is bred to win Cups.
The Trent Busuttin-trained galloper has always had a big reputation, and Wednesday’s NZ$1million Stella Artois Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie could finally see the promising stayer make Gr.1 headlines.
Riding the crest of a wave following Monday’s 3200m Gr.2 Adelaide Cup win by a horse he bred in Capecover (NZ), Stuart Hale, a part-owner of Six O’Clock News (NZ) is looking forward to the momentum flowing into the week.
“I was absolutely delighted with Capecover and it was quite an emotional win for me seeing the horse breakthrough for the two mile win” Stuart Hale told NZTM on Tuesday.
“Both Capecover and Six O’Clock News are genuine two-milers and it could be a massive week for both of them” Hale added.
“Capecover has been a victim of circumstances throughout his career but the worm has finally turned for him – I think the same can be said for Six O’Clock News and I hope his luck changes on Wednesday too” said Hale, who owned the 1987 Melbourne Cup winner Kensei.
A winner of six of his 32 starts to date, Six O’Clock News (NZ) broke through for black-type reward in the Gr.2 City of Auckland Cup (2400m) in January last year, and went onto run fifth in its Gr.1 edition three months later.
Chasing a start in the Melbourne Cup last year, Six O’Clock News (NZ) ran straight into Mother Nature who proceeded to present him with a series of rain affected tracks. The top of the ground stayer failed to fire on the unhelpful bias, and the result was inevitably an unfruitful Australian campaign.
“Six O’Clock News has always been a promising stayer but I honestly believe that this year is his year” said Hale.
“He galloped last Wednesday over two rounds and was absolutely on the steel when he past the post the second time - it was outstanding work” said Hale.
The now five-year-old gelding threw his cap into the Auckland Cup ring when he stormed home along the fence to finish third to the Gr.1 galloper Veloce Bella (NZ) in February's Skycity Hamilton Casino Cup (2000m). A similar effort was seen at his last start at Ellerslie when he crossed the finish line behind Wednesday’s race rivals Heza Karma Karzi and Everbright (NZ) over 2400m.
Strongly favoured in the Cup market at $6.50, Six O’Clock News (NZ) looks primed to silence sceptics.
Sharing top billing is the fellow Zabeel galloper Zavite (NZ).
Already well favoured, having proven form over the two mile distance, the Anthony Cummings-trained Zavite (NZ) shot into top line reckoning after an emphatic win in the Moonee Valley Night Cup (2500m) at his last start.
The Australian visitor was a winner of Gr.2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) this time last year, and boasts a healthy bank account balance of over A$1.1million.
Remarkably should Six O’Clock News (NZ), Zavite (NZ) or Zabeel’s additional representatives Zabene (NZ) and Minqar Qaim, be successful on Wednesday, the prolific staying producer would celebrate his fourth Auckland Cup win in 13 years.
The previous Auckland Cup winners sired by Zabeel are Jezabeel (1998), Able Master (2000), Our Unicorn (2001) and Bazelle (2005).
The Gr.1 Stella Artois Auckland Cup is set to run at 5.50pm on Wednesday.
The field for the Auckland Cup:
Zavite (NZ) Zabeel x Miss Vita by Alleged
Spin Around Spinning World x Be Yourself by Noalcoholic
Mandela (NZ) Ebony Grosve x Wairongoa Belle by Sea Anchor
Everbright (NZ) Cape Cross x Anna’s Choice by Vice Regal
Willy Smith (NZ) Volksraad x Sound Lear by Sound Reason
Manonamission (NZ) Kilimanjaro x Arctic Life by Arctic Tern
Young Centaur Jeune x Centafit by Centaine
Six O’Clock News (NZ) Zabeel x Maurine by Harbor Prince
Tinseltown (NZ) Pentire x Tinsel by Jetball
Fazza (NZ) I Conquer x Sapale by Gay Apollo
Zabene (NZ) Zabeel x Emerald Dream by Danehill
Booming (NZ) Don Eduardo x Beautiful Sea by Grosvenor
Heza Karma Karzi Choisir x Sutra by Jade Hunter
Minqar Qaim Zabeel x Marquise by Gold and Ivory
Bakup (NZ) Kilimanjaro x Dastaria by Stark South
Grand Affair (NZ) Black Tuxedo x Peggy O’Reilly by O’Reilly
Seaflyte (NZ) Kilimanjaro x Grosvenor’s Girl by Grosvenor
Tin Goose (NZ) (B1) Pentire x Tiger Moth by Sky Chase
Nazabeel (NZ) (B3) Zabeel x Arena Pride by Nassipour
Group Three Darley Plate (1200m)
Vonusti (NZ) heads the Group Three Darley Plate field
The million dollar Gr.1 Telegraph Hcp (1200m) winner Vonusti (NZ) (Ustinov) will look to return to the winners circle in Wednesday’s Gr.3 Darley Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie.
Vonusti (NZ), who is trained by Tim and Margaret Carter, celebrated a career best win when he proved his wares at the elite level two starts ago in the Gr.1 sprint feature at Trentham.
Backing up in the Gr.1 Waikato Draught Sprint at Te Rapa in February, Vonusti (NZ) carried 59kgs under the weight-for-age scale, and had no answer to the eventual winner Tavistock, finishing 9th on this occasion.
The field for the Darely Plate
Vonusti (NZ) Ustinov x Reasonably by Sound Reason
Taking the Mickey (NZ) Tuscany Flyer x Mary Ford by Sackford
Occidentalis Scenic x Rosa’s Wish by Rory’s Jester
Atapi Last Tycoon x Pride Of Ingenue by Proud Knight
Kiloton Spinning World x Mystifying by Last Tycoon
Albercheno Magic Albert x Snippet’s Dancer by Snippets
Vincent Mangano (NZ) No Excuse Needed x Rationable by Housebuster
Back in Black (NZ) Storm Creek x Shutricia by Grosvenor
Raid (NZ) Pins x Vanilla Sky by O’Reilly
Jazzella (NZ) Black Minnaloushe x Jazzmatazz by Citidancer
Beautiful Girl (NZ) Black Minnaloushe x Piccadilly Lily by Rubiton
Saheel (NZ) Zabeel x Desert Ace by Desert Sun
Lipperty Lip (NZ) Riviera x Oregon’s Bid by Oregon
C’est La Vie (NZ) Anabaa x Iman by Zemindar
Listed Mercedes Benz Sunline Stakes (2100m)
Volksraad look to fillies to continue winning roll.
Windsor Park Stud sire Volksraad will look to his three daughters Corsage (NZ), A Chance to Dream and The Toothfairy (NZ) to keep his name firmly in the Auckland Cup Week spotlight at Ellerslie on Wednesday.
The seven-time champion sire celebrated Gr.1 New Zealand Derby success on Saturday courtesy of the Shaune Ritchie-trained Military Move (NZ).
Wednesday’s leading lady for Volksraad is the Mark Walker-conditioned Corsage (NZ). Third in the Gr.1 Diamond Stakes as a two-year-old, Corsage (NZ) is backing up from a 4th in the Gr.3 Lowland Stakes at Hastings on Saturday.
A Chance to Dream presents as a last start winner at Ellerslie on February 17, whilst The Toothfairy is yet to make her debut appearance in the winners circle.
The field for Sunline Stakes
Adaline Court of Jewels x Red Covet by St Covet
November Rain (NZ) Stravinsky x Lady Teruko by Kris S
C’mon Cuba (NZ) Thorn Park x Hecuba by Danzero
Corsage (NZ) Volksraad x Spray by Entrepreneur
Lady Chaparral (NZ) High Chaparral x Images by Gleam Machine
Pezzaglia (NZ) High Chaparral x Paolino by Housebuster
A Chance to Dream Volksraad x Make Me Dream by Sadler’s Wells
Exquisite Choice Redoute’s Choice x Exquisitely by Snippets
Peace Lilly (NZ) Bachelor Duke x Peace and Quiet by Niniski
Bail Out (NZ) Bachelor Duke x Graceful Endeavour by Sackford
Carrie Ann (NZ) Canny Lady x Aine by Octagonal
Savabeel Star (NZ) Savabeel x Astradane by Danehill
Frills (NZ) Bertolini x Ladies Choice by Bahhare
Rivereena (NZ) Savabeel x Riveryev by Irish River
The Toothfairy (NZ) Volksraad x Split the Night by Senor Pete
Runaway Bride (NZ) (B1) Ustinov x Just Casual by Casual Lies