Gifted facing big step up in class

Canterbury mare Gifted will attempt to complete a hat-trick of wins in tomorrow’s Oamaru Cup for...
Canterbury mare Gifted will attempt to complete a hat-trick of wins in tomorrow’s Oamaru Cup for rider Tanya Jonker. PHOTO: RACE IMAGES.
Canterbury mare Gifted will attempt to cap her quick rise through the grades by winning the Oamaru Cup tomorrow.

The Taylor Burnett-trained 5yr-old will face her toughest test when she takes on a strong line-up of hardy open handicappers in the 1600m feature.

Gifted has found herself in open company after winning her past two starts in rating 65 and 72 grades.

Burnett said the mare's brilliant winter form had been a case of patience paying off.

"She has come back a lot stronger this prep.

"It has been a few years coming, but she has been a pretty awesome little horse."

Gifted will take a big step up in class in tomorrow's feature.

Burnett said Gifted's rider, Tanya Jonker, gave him the confidence to try Gifted in the Oamaru Cup.

"I spoke to Tanya about her race in 72 grade and she said she had more to give.

"The horse feels amazing and she has got a heart of gold and she will give it a go."

Gifted gets an excellent opportunity to test herself against proven horses under the conditions of the Oamaru Cup.

The 5yr-old will carry just 52kg courtesy of Jonker's 2kg claim.

The Oamaru track was rated in a good condition yesterday morning.

Rain hit North Otago yesterday and the MetService is expecting more to come over the weekend.

The strong likelihood of a track downgrade is excellent news for Burnett, as all of Gifted's form is on dead to heavy rated surfaces.

It is also welcome news for the camps of some of Gifted's main rivals.

Leading hopes Raise You Ten and King Cougar both relish rain-affected ground.

Versatile gallopers Trudeau and Owen Patrick, who are also big hopes in the race, look less likely to need any deterioration in the track.

North Island raider King Cougar looks ready to strike in tomorrow's feature.

The 5yr-old comes south for Awapuni trainer Mike Breslin after producing a hard-fighting second behind Herengawe in his last start on his home track.

That run continued the consistent form King Cougar has produced this winter.

The galloper will carry 57.5kg in tomorrow's race with rider Chris Johnson.

Former North Islander Owen Patrick also brings consistent form to the Oamaru Cup.

The Terrill Charles and Peter Corbett-trained galloper continued his good winter when running home well in to second placing behind Nomen Ludi in his last start at Timaru.

Owen Patrick will carry 55kg for rider Doni Prastiyou.

That weight gives him a sizable 5kg advantage over last year's Oamaru Cup winner, Elfee.

The Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained mare will not return in quite the same dashing form she was in last year.

Michael Pitman told NZ Racing Desk his mare's 60kg handicap was a big concern.

"The 60kg is a lot of weight for a mare, but she is the best horse in the race and I understand that.

"We thought about claiming but we decided she was due for a senior rider."

Rider Terry Moseley will combine with Elfee.

Many of the main contenders could take their first step towards winning the $60,000 bonus for winning the Oamaru Cup and next month's Winter Cup.

Last year's Winter Cup winner, Platinum Command, is among them.

The North Island raider will need to improve on his recent form if he is to complete the feat.

The Lisa Latta-trained galloper ran last in the same race Owen Patrick contested at Timaru earlier this month.

Gifted is not among those horses seeking to win the bonus as she is not nominated for the Winter Cup.

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