Tapanui stayer big chance in cup

Mr Intelligence (obscured, inner) and Sitarist, who formed the quinella in the Dunedin Gold Cup,...
Mr Intelligence (obscured, inner) and Sitarist, who formed the quinella in the Dunedin Gold Cup, could again be prominent in the Invercargill Gold Cup at Ascot Park tomorrow. Photo: Wild Range Photography
Tapanui stayer Mr Intelligence will be out to go one better than his agonisingly narrow defeat in the Dunedin Gold Cup in tomorrow’s Invercargill Gold Cup.

Several on-lookers, including trainers Nikki and Barrie Blatch, thought the 4yr-old got his nose in front at the right time on Champions Day at Wingatui.

Soon after, the judge called Mr Intelligence in second by just a nose margin to late finisher Sitarist.

Second was still a pretty good result for a horse that looked unlikely to gain a start in the 2400m listed feature.

A week out from the race, Mr Intelligence was a long shot just to make the field. The Niagra 4yr-old looked in danger of being left on the ballot until he came out and dealt to hardy open-company horses in the Dunedin Gold Cup Trial at Riccarton when he had just two wins to his name.

"We actually thought we were being a bit cheeky taking him to an open race in Christchurch," Nikki Blatch said.

"It was only the fact there were only six others in it and they were paying back to 10th.

"And that race was only the real option for him, and then winning it made him exempt from ballot at Wingatui.

"Originally we didn’t think we would have gotten a start in the Dunedin Cup."

Mr Intelligence’s early career form did not suggest he had the makings of a highly progressive stayer.

With maturity and the chance to compete on firm tracks, the 4yr-old has developed into an exciting prospect.

"We have always liked the horse. He was just a bit slow to learn the game," Blatch said.

"Things didn’t really go his way to start with, but things have started to fall in to place now. And he is starting to get good tracks.

"He was going all right on heavy tracks, but he couldn’t really sprint on them.

"A couple of good tracks have made all the difference, really."

The Ascot Park track was rated at dead5 yesterday.

The MetService forecast for Invercargill on Saturday is
for morning cloud and some drizzle , then fine in the early afternoon.

That suggests Mr Intelligence should get footing firm enough to show off his best.

They way the horse has progressed since the Dunedin Gold Cup suggests he is ready to impress.

"He is as good as gold. He has come through it really well," Blatch said.

"I don’t think the distance (2600m) will worry him at all. He just cruises along. He doesn’t over-race or anything like that.

"I actually think the further, the better for him."

Eight of 14 Dunedin Gold Cup starters will back up at Ascot Park tomorrow.

They include Sitarist, who hit the line powerfully.

Third placegetter Riveria Rock produced one of the runs of the race with his gritty effort after missing the start and looping the field.

The concern for his backers will be the on-speed galloper has produced uncharacteristically poor beginnings in his last two starts.

Three key runners come into the Invercargill Gold Cup after bypassing the Dunedin Gold Cup.

Dee And Gee will start for the first time since he was badly hampered when running down the track in last month’s Wellington Cup.

Stablemates Wild Jack and Come Fly With Me come into the race through the Gore and Tapanui Cups.

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