Racing: Cup hope needs to restore punters' faith

By Michael Guerin

A potential all-time great if he can develop the manners to match his motor, Have Faith In Me's record in standing start races make for ugly reading. Photo / Stuart McCormick
A potential all-time great if he can develop the manners to match his motor, Have Faith In Me's record in standing start races make for ugly reading. Photo / Stuart McCormick

It is time for New Zealand's best pacer to get serious.

Because for all his talent and a trophy case that includes the Auckland Cup and Miracle Mile, Have Faith In Me is starting to become painful for punters.

The 5-year-old has the perfect opportunity to turn that around in today's Ashburton Flying Stakes, the crucial final chance to earn respect before everybody's early season aim, the New Zealand Cup on November 8.

A potential all-time great if he can develop the manners to match his motor, Have Faith In Me's record in standing start races make for ugly reading. He won that Auckland Cup from the stand but has only two placings in five other attempts, with his last-start fourth to stablemate Lazarus at Addington a perfect example of how frustrating he can be.

Have Faith In Me missed away enough to settle last and when Lazarus and his mates set up a national record in front even an equine superman can't come three wide and beat them.

With the small field and the remote back straight starting point for the 2400m contest, Have Faith In Me won't get a better chance to begin on terms with his rivals and be in a position to launch a mid-race assault.

If he does that and gets in front of Lazarus he can win, if he doesn't punters might do their cash again because Lazarus doesn't look the sort of horse who comes back to his rivals.

So not only will Have Faith In Me's manners determine his winning hopes today but whether he can be backed with any confidence in the Cup.

"He felt a bit flat after his last run but he has bounced back and worked well on Wednesday," says co-trainer Mark Purdon. "This is his chance to settle handier and if he does that he has to be put in the race."

Lazarus has so far looked a near perfect open class newcomer and if he leads or settles handy it will take the best version of Have Faith In Me to beat him. Their cases have been aided by stablemate Smolda being pulled out because of a slightly off blood report which Purdon says is no big deal and he could head to Kaikoura next Monday.

On a beautiful day of racing that feels like the real launch of the harness racing summer, Horse of the Year Monbet returns and has the right draw to be driven aggressively in the Flying Mile.

If Ricky May elects to go forward early that would put Marcoola and Sunny Ruby behind Monbet and could be the winning of the race so those taking the short odds will hope May pushes the go button early.

- NZ Herald

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