You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Canterbury pacer A G’s White Socks will be out to buck a trend when he steps out in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru tomorrow.
Several leading prospects for the New Zealand Cup have had their campaigns curtailed and stablemates Self Assured and Spankem were withdrawn from the 2600m standing-start feature this week by leading trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.
There are also doubts about the cup campaigns of Belle Of Montana, Mach Shard, U May Cullect and Nandolo,
who have been disappointing in their most recent leadup races.
The withdrawal this week of Another Masterpiece and Princess Tiffany further complicated the New Zealand Cup puzzle.
A massive question mark has hung over A G’s White Socks since he suffered an atrial fibrillation and was pulled up in his first start for the season in last month’s Maurice Holmes Vase.
North Canterbury trainers Greg and Nina Hope then scratched the then 7yr-old from the New Brighton Cup two weeks later.
But they hope their pacer can get his campaign back on a better footing at Oamaru tomorrow.
“After his heart problem he had some treatment and it had a 14-day withholding period, so he had to be scratched out of the New Brighton Cup,” stable representative Ben Hope said.
“He was working good enough going into that race and we thought he would have been a pretty good chance.”
A G’s White Socks and Classie Brigade are the two proven big-race performers left in the Hannon.
Classie Brigade’s brilliant standing-start manners and excellent recent form, including his last-start win in the New Brighton Cup, have made him a hot $2 favourite.
While A G’s White Socks can match the Robert Dunn-trained pacer on class, the fact he has to take him on in effectively a fresh state, after his first-up run turned into a non-event, is a big task.
"It is not going to be easy for A G’s White Socks, but he should still be in the top three, you would think,” Hope said.
He will be driven by Ricky May.
Up-and-coming horses in the Hannon get an excellent chance to boost their hopes of being a factor on the second Tuesday in November.
Robyns Playboy, who started the season in fine form and broke the Ascot Park track record in his last start, looks a contender.
Popular pacer U May Cullect also gets the chance to bolster his New Zealand Cup claims after disappointing at Winton last week.