Racing: Favourite tag missing in Methven Cup

By Michael Guerin

Sushi Sushi (1) is under the most pressure tomorrow. Photo / Dean Purcell
Sushi Sushi (1) is under the most pressure tomorrow. Photo / Dean Purcell

Don't bother asking Team Purdon which one of their outstanding trio they expect to come out on top in tomorrow's $35,000 Methven Cup.

Because the gap between the group one winners is so small they really can't choose a favourite.

Trainer Mark Purdon will debut former Aussie superstar Sushi Sushi in the grass track staying event, up against Australasian Breeders Crown winner Fly Like An Eagle and former age-group star Major Mark.

All three are entrants for next month's New Zealand Cup and will need to start performing at this level and higher if they are to be taken seriously at Addington.

With his reputation and army of supporters it is Sushi Sushi who is under the most pressure tomorrow, especially as he faces a 30m backmark under race conditions so foreign to him.

But Purdon's stable number two driver Blair Orange says although Sushi Sushi may not have raced for a while his work has been outstanding.

"He has been working with Fly Like An Eagle lately and Mark and Natalie [Rasmussen, who drives Sushi Sushi] have both been thrilled," Orange told the Weekend Herald.

"But there isn't much between them, which makes it really hard to pick between them and also Major Mark this Sunday.

"Sushi Sushi seems to be getting better all the time and he will be hard to beat but Fly Like An Eagle looks awesome and he is pretty good from a standing start, which could be the difference this week.

"And Major Mark has been good in both his runs back. He is probably best driven for luck and the field and distance this week gives him a chance to be driven like that.

"So any of our three could win and I don't think we would be surprised."

The field also boasts Zenola Seelster, who has a fine grass track record and trialled well at Cambridge last week, and Kotare Yaakov, who has looked back to his best for new trainer Robert Dunn.

The Methven Cup also provides serious punters with accounts in two countries with a rare chance to play the odds in their favour because Sushi Sushi distorts the market so much.

Because he is so highly rated in Australia, bookies there opened him $1.90 fixed odds whereas in New Zealand the TAB opened him $4.

Likewise a horse like Zenola Seelster was $9 in Australia yet $4.50 fixed odds here, providing plenty of percentage for the punters to play with.

- NZ Herald

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