The passing of the New Zealand Trotting Cup baton may be complete after 2020 winner Self Assured was ruled out of the race on Wednesday night. Co-trainer Mark Purdon confirmed the $2million earner will not be starting in the IRT-sponsored Cup at Addington on November 14 after two lacklustre recent efforts.
He was poor, by his very high standards, in both the Flying Stakes at Ashburton and Monday’s Kaikoura Cup and Purdon says the Cup would be the wrong race at this time.
“He is just not right so we will do some more tests but we will freshen him up and aim him at the Free-For-All on the Friday,” says Purdon.
“You can freshen horses up, especially older horse like him, and maybe show something like his best in the Free-For-All but there is no point putting a horse in the Cup who isn’t racing at his best.”
Self Assured withdrawal comes just weeks after Copy That was pulled out of not only the Cup but his entire summer programme with his career in doubt because of a leg issue. That means the winners of the last three New Zealand Cups and the only two winners of The Race by Grins won’t be at Addingon on November 14 this month’s Cup will see a new winner.
And maybe the ascension of Akuta to the confirmed king of New Zealand pacing as doubts must surely linger over the two horses who have been our best pacers for much of the last three years. Of course there will be 13 other Kiwi pacers and one Australian in Swayzee who have something to say about Akuta being the King, if in fact the Cup gets a full field of 15.
With Spirit Of St Louis also pulling out on Wednesday, the Cup is developing a tail. There is still plenty of proven group 1 form in Akuta, Swayzee, Old Town Road, B D Joe, Krug, Republican Party and Kango but after that the race starts to taper off in winning or placed form at the highest level.
It will be interesting to see if 15 horses even try to accept next week before the barrier draw is done on Wednesday.