Racing: Kiwis blasted off the track

Local hopes to back up Victoria Cup win with successful transtasman tour.

Caribbean Blaster kept the Kiwi challengers at bay in the Victoria Cup at Melton on Saturday. Photo / Stuart McCormick
Caribbean Blaster kept the Kiwi challengers at bay in the Victoria Cup at Melton on Saturday. Photo / Stuart McCormick

The horse who thrashed the Kiwis in the Victoria Cup could be coming back to haunt them on their home ground.

Caribbean Blaster overcame the outside of the second line draw to power over the top of one of the hottest harness fields of the year in the A$400,000 Victoria Cup on Saturday night.

The five-year-old outstayed the Tim Butt-trained Mah Sish and hot favourite I'm Themightyquinn, who had his chance but wasn't suited by burning very hard early.

After some blazing early sectionals the race was set up for the winner but he was still wonderful in what is effectively his first Grand Circuit campaign.

Remarkably, the five-year-old stallion looked bigger and bolder than when he battled during New Zealand Cup week last month, suggesting his best form may still be in front of him.

And trainer Andy Gath says he would love to bring the chunky pacer back to New Zealand this season to take advantage of one of the most controversial recent decisions in New Zealand harness racing.

HRNZ bosses decided this season to open its major 4-year-old races to 5-year-olds as well because of small field numbers for some key age-group races in recent years.

That means horses like dual New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love and Caribbean Blaster can take on the 4-year-olds in races like the Taylor Mile, Messenger Pace and even the Harness Jewels. The change hasn't pleased everybody, especially as the best 5-year-olds tend to be open-class stars and therefore already race for megabucks.

"I was pretty interested when I saw that change and I am very interested now," said Gath.

"It means we can go to Alexandra Park and race in the Mile and the Messenger and if he goes any good he will get enough money to qualify for the Jewels."

Which would also give Caribbean Blaster a shot at a fast mile time at the lightning quick Ashburton track at the Jewels.

"And that is important for him because he is part-owned by Alabar Stud and they would love to see him get a fast time.

"So I'd say at this stage you will definitely be seeing him go back to New Zealand this season."

And maybe next as well as Gath has been bitten by the New Zealand Cup bug. "It is a great race and I think the Kiwis didn't see the best of him this season so I'd like to take him back over there next season when I think he will be even stronger."

Before then, though, Caribbean Blaster - who capped an amazing week for his sire Bettors Delight - will have a busy time.

He will be aimed at the Hunter Cup in February and the Interdominions in March, which Gath says will suit him just fine.

"And we have another crack at a fast mile in the Miracle Mile in April in Sydney as well.

"He will cop it because the longest spell he ever has is two weeks because he does so well. We like to race him and he thrives on it so he can have a busy season. Just look at the last month, it hasn't bothered him at all."

Mah Sish was beautifully driven by Anthony Butt for second and will also head to the Hunter Cup, but on the whole the Kiwi challenge didn't come to much.

Gold Ace lost his early bid for the lead and was average afterwards, while Pembrook Benny had a beautiful cart into the race but failed to produce his best, which could also be said for Sushi Sushi.

Mah Sish, Gold Ace and Sushi Sushi had all easily beaten Caribbean Blaster at New Zealand Cup week, showing just how hard it is to travel and maintain peak form on the brutal Grand Circuit.

- NZ Herald

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