Two former New Zealand Cup winners, My Scotsgrey and Showcause, are preparing for possible campaigns down under where the pair will target glory during Flemington’s 2011 Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Prepared by father and son trainers Frank and Shaune Ritchie, Showcause and My Scotsgrey both showed off their spring potential in an exhibition gallop between races at Ruakaka last Saturday.
They were accompanied by the likes of fellow Melbourne Spring Carnival hopefuls including Keep The Peace and King Mufhasa, who also strutted their stuff at home ahead of their new season debuts.
Frank Ritchie’s six-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding Showcause broke their Group race duck during November last year when taking out the 2010 New Zealand Cup, held over the same testing two mile distance as its famous Victorian counterpart, the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The galloper went on to claim this year’s Auckland Cup (2400m) in January and also the Group 2 Avondale Cup (2400m) before running a gallant second to Titch in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) back in March.
At this stage Ritchie, who prepared former champion thoroughbred Bonecrusher who won nine elite levels including the 1986 Cox Plate, said he was happy with the progress Showcause was making in regards to his race fitness.
“He’s steadily getting fitter,” Ritchie said.
Last Saturday Showcause ran the last 600 metres of their 1000 metre hitout in a sharp 35.2, which pleased Ritchie.
“I was very happy with that,” he said.
The 2011 Melbourne Cup on Tuesday November 1 at Flemington is the ambitious aim for Showcause, who will be nominated for the $6 million handicap when entries are taken on September 1.
Bought over to Australia for the Sydney Autumn Carnival this year, Showcause had just one race on Aussie soil when finishing a disappointing ninth beaten seven lengths by the Gai Waterhouse-trained Once Were Wild in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) at Randwick on Derby Day.
The Shaune Ritchie-trained My Scotsgrey has also appeared in Australia previously, the injury-prone stayer having competed in the Melbourne Spring Carnival back in 2008 during their first ever preparation.
The Golan gelding ran third in the Listed Geelong Classic (2206m) before running eighth to Rebel Raider, a contender for this year’s Caulfield – Melbourne Cups double, in the Group 1 Victoria Derby at Flemington that year.
A winner on debut in September of 2008, My Scotsgrey didn’t record their next career victory until October of 2009 when they won three straight races including that year’s New Zealand Cup.
Ongoing issues have seen the horse run just twice since their NZ Cup success, My Scotsgrey most recently resuming from a 16 month break to run a dismal ninth in a 1400 metre open handicap in June.
My Scotsgrey is a stablemate of classy New Zealand mare Keep The Peace.
A triple Group 1 winner, five-year-old Keeper mare Keep The Peace is tipped to resume racing in the $200,000 Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 3, Ritchie opting not to give her the chance to defend her title in the Group 1 Mudgway Partsworld Stakes (1400m) at Hastings on August 27.
It is reported that her New York-based owners are more focused on getting Keep The Peace to salute in an Australian Group 1 feature, as opposed to one in New Zealand, to add to her value as a prospective broodmare.
“The Let’s Elope Stakes is a week after the first Hastings race and it’s a Group Two 1400 metres at Flemington,” Ritchie said.
“The owners will have a say in who rides, so we’ll wait and see.”
Ace apprentice James McDonald is the likely pick.
Meanwhile the Stephen McKee-trained King Mufhasa is set to race first-up in the Group 1 Hawkes Bay Challenge Stakes (1400m), the Pentire seven-year-old most recently running three lengths away 10th behind Rangirangdoo in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on April 2.
The veteran galloper former known as simply Mufhasa is a recurrent visitor in Australia for the autumn, winter and spring majors, the four-time Group 1 champion’s best run down under being their third to Danleigh in the 2010 George Ryder Stakes.
A decision is pending on whether King Mufhasa will make another trip across the Tasman this spring.
“The owners seem pretty keen but he’d have to run really well in the first two legs of the Hastings treble to make the trip,” McKee said.
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