Racing: Kay seeking third New Zealand Cup

Spiro (far side) is a long head from beating Shez Sinsational in the Auckland  Cup in March. Spiro heads the field for the New Zealand Cup tomorrow. Photo by NZ Herald.
Spiro (far side) is a long head from beating Shez Sinsational in the Auckland Cup in March. Spiro heads the field for the New Zealand Cup tomorrow. Photo by NZ Herald.

Spiro looks set to give Sylvia Kay, the Levin trainer, her third New Zealand Cup at Riccarton tomorrow.

Kay won the New Zealand Cup in 1995 and 1998 with Sapio. Brian Hibberd rode the horse in 1995 and Darryl Bradley in 1998.

Hibberd won a record five New Zealand Cups.

His other victories were on Payco (1982), Exocet (1993), Karaoke (1993) and Waltermitty (2004).

Spiro stormed home late for a close third to the deadheaters Savvy Dancer and Jeu de Cartes over 2100m at Awapuni 13 days ago.

Spiro showed he would find no problem with the 3200m after finishing a long head second behind Shez Sinsational in the Auckland Cup in March.

The Pyrus 7yr-old has to carry top weight of 60kg. Sapio carried 59kg in 1998, the heaviest weight carried to success since metrics were introduced in 1973.

Chapinta has fashioned a tidy record with four wins from seven starts.

The 6yr-old High Chaparral mare had won three races on end before being outfinished by New Zealand Cup rival Sou'east over 2400m at Trentham on October 27.

Leith Innes has the mount.

Innes won the Cup in 2009 on Myscotsgrey, trained by Shaune Ritchie. Innes was also successful in the group three race on Trebla in 2005.

Miss Isle was finishing on as well as any runner behind Kullu last Saturday.

The diminutive 5yr-old is trained by Frank Ritchie (Shaune's father), who won the New Zealand Cup with Showcause two years ago.

Dancing Embers caught the eye when second, albeit eight lengths from Kullu, last Saturday. Dancing Embers is the mount of Kylie Williams, who is looking to uphold the fine record of female riders in the race. Maree Lyndon was successful aboard Sirtain in 1982, Jan Cameron (Old Thymer, 1996), Lee Rutherford (Laud Peregrine, 1997), and Kelly Myers (Hoorang, 2008).

Kullu spreadeagled the field in the Metropolitan Handicap and it will be interesting if David Walsh can employ those tactics over 3200m.

Marea Alta won an open 2200m at Ellerslie two starts back in a manner which suggests the Montjeu mare is a grand chance to give rider Noel Harris his fifth New Zealand Cup victory. Harris rode Wake Forest, Mika, Pentathon and Everswindell to win the race.

The winner last year, Blood Brotha, fought determinedly for fourth in the Metropolitan.

He carried 53.5kg last year and has 53kg tomorrow.

Another proven group performer, Single Minded, could also feature in the New Zealand Cup, The New Zealand Herald reports.

He won two group two 2400m features last campaign.

Single Minded has not raced since a thwarted Melbourne Cup campaign but Matamata trainer Graham Richardson was thrilled with his final hit-out before flying to Christchurch late Wednesday night.

"He galloped over 2000m and come home over the last three [furlongs] in 38 and pulled up not even blowing," Richardson said.

"He's a very fit horse - he's just got to be good enough."

Single Minded had four starts in Victoria, the most promising of which was a sixth in the listed Bart Cummings Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on October 6.

The Bachelor Duke gelding finished an inexplicable eighth of eight next up over 3000m with James McDonald aboard at Moonee Valley on October 26.

"Vets reckon he was sore behind and you could just see that. He might have twinged something in the race but whatever it was he's fine now."

Single Minded has only tried 3200m once before when 11th as second-fancy in the $500,000 Auckland Cup on March 7.

Richardson said bettors should read nothing into that miss when assessing his chances tomorrow.

"He pulled very hard to get to the front and was three, four and five wide and still in front half-way up the straight.

Single Minded will carry 54.5kg with Craig Grylls back on.

Highlights for the pair last campaign were winning the group two City of Auckland Cup, carrying 54.5kg, and the Avondale Cup with 1kg more.