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Auckland Cup Preview: Shez Sinsational to test Melbourne Cup credentials

March 7, 2012

The Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) may not be the race it once was, but a handy field of stayers is set to contest the feature two mile event on Wednesday.

Shez Sinsational, placed in both the Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks last winter, has been the weight for age horse over the New Zealand summer.

She recorded wins in the Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) and the Group 1 Darci Brahma International Stakes (2000m), and trainer Allan Sharrock is keen to set her for the Melbourne Cup in November.

A win in the Auckland Cup would cement those plans, although the Auckland-Melbourne feature double has only been done once.

This was by another mare, Jezabeel, in 1998.

She is coming off a disappointing third last Saturday over 2200m, where she finished behind Wednesday’s rivals The Jungle Boy and Titch, but she meets them better at the weights and is considered by the bookies a good chance of beating them home.

There are a host of dangers, including another top horse in Booming.

The son of Don Eduardo may be getting older, but he appeared to hit his straps last summer with wins in the Zabeel Classic and Thorndon Mile.

He also looked like being a Melbourne Cup hopeful when he hit the line strongly in the Coongy Handicap in the spring, but he missed the race after a poor showing in the Lexus Stakes.

He had been mixing his form this time in but looked on track with a powerful second in the Group 2 Avondale Cup (2400m) behind Single Minded.

This will be only his second attempt at 3200m, after running second to Zavite in this race two years ago, but he looks a good chance in an open race.

His last start conqueror Single Minded is considered by some to be the emerging older stayer this season.

He has only had eleven starts but he looks a stayer of good potential, considering his wins in the Group 2 City of Auckland Cup (2400m) and the Avondale Cup.

He tackles 3200m for the first time but will be in the mix as they turn for home.

Last year’s Auckland Cup winner Titch has slowly returned to form at his last few starts.

The one time jumper comes off very similar form to last year and is the best exposed stayer in the field, with the guarantee he’ll run 3200m.

He will be looking to join Ariel, Nelson, Blue Jacket, All Red, Te Kara, Cheval De Volee, Il Tempo and Prize Lady as multiple winners of New Zealand’s top open staying event.

Surprisingly, there has been a lot of talk about the mare Options.

She is ultra-consistent, having finished in the top four at 15 of her 18 starts, but she steps beyond 2100m for the first time and it is a quantum leap up to two miles.

New Zealand Cup winner Blood Brotha is at big odds today, despite a good run in the Avondale Cup.

Better with a bit of give in the track, he is unlikely to get his preferred conditions but could prevail if it is a a tough slog to the line.

The horse he beat in the New Zealand Cup was The Jungle Boy, who is underrated by many.

A year ago, he looked like a horse who’d reached his potential, but he has managed to improve markedly this preparation.

His form has been rock solid and he looks ready to produce a big run today.

He is likely to be over the odds, considering his formline, and he could be the each way bet in a tough race.

Of the others, Castle Heights is the type of horse who always seems to run top four in these sorts of races and could be one who sneaks into the places at big odds, while Six O’Clock News has good form but doesn’t run a strong 3200m so can be avoided.

Back in Black has been below his best for some time but was only 2.3L behind Dunaden in the Geelong Cup so if he can run to that level, he’s some chance, and Innocent Lady, who started favourite last year, is set to start ten times that price today.

Selections

#2 – BOOMING
#7 – THE JUNGLE BOY
#5 – SHEZ SINSATIONAL
#10 – CASTLE HEIGHTS

Summary

Personally, I think Shez Sinsational is a risk at 3200m. On class, she probably wins, but there is always that nagging query. Booming’s a class runner who I know runs 3200m, so I’ve decided to put him on top. I do think The Jungle Boy is the best each way bet in the race, so I’ve got him for second. Shez Sinsational should be around the mark, even if she isn’t winning, while I’m always worried about Castle Heights entering the trifecta, so I’ve put him fourth.

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