This is one New Year resolution that will be carried out.
You can be sure that the winner of the City Of Auckland Cup at Ellerslie on January 1 will have the Avondale and Auckland Cups on their autumn dance card.
This follows the announcement yesterday that there will be a $1 million bonus for any horse who can win Ellerslie's three big open staying races. The triple crown bonus is a joint initiative between New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and the Auckland Racing Club.
The $200,000 Laser Plumbing Te Puke City of Auckland Cup (2400m) will be followed by the $100,000 Go Racing Syndications Avondale Cup (2400m) on February 18 and the $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) on March 11.
The City Of Auckland and Avondale Cups are run under handicap conditions, while the Auckland Cup will be run at set weights, with penalties.
"The ARC acknowledges the support of NZTR regarding our three feature summer staying races," chief executive Cameron George said yesterday. "The bonus will add further excitement to what will be a fantastic summer of racing at Ellerslie."
Earning the bonus would be a difficult but not impossible task. The Avondale Cup has only been run at Ellerslie - and in February - from 2011 and two horses have already had a decent shot at the treble.
Showcause won the first two legs in 2011 and was the runner-up in the Auckland Cup and Single Minded won the first two legs the following year, before failing in the Auckland Cup. El Soldado, a shock winner of the 2016 Auckland Cup, finished second in two of the three legs in 2013 and Rose of Virginia was runner-up in both the City Of Auckland and Auckland Cups this year.
It is also possible that there will be Australian-trained runners in all three legs this season.
Leading Victorian trainer Darren Weir has already nominated Kyneton Cup winner Taiyoo for the City Of Auckland Cup and Auckland Cup and has entered six others - Real Love, Lord Van Percy, Shamkiyr, High Church, Loresho and Auvray - for the Auckland Cup.
Taiyoo is a seven-year-old but has been a prolific winner, with 14 wins from 39 attempts.
He carried 60kg to win this month's Kyneton Cup (2000m).
Real Love, a mare, would be suited by the set weight conditions in the Auckland Cup and was competitive at the Melbourne spring carnival.
The Desert King six-year-old ran second in the Group two Feehan Stakes when resuming, won the Group three JRA Cup (2040m) at Moonee Valley and finished fifth in the Caulfield Cup.
Brisbane trainer Liam Birchley, who has previously taken sure aim at the Karaka Million at Ellerslie, has nominated Pop 'N' Scotch for the City Of Auckland Cup and Auckland Cup and has entered the Redwood gelding Chamalu for the $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby.
Pop 'N' Scotch was the runner-up in the 3200m Queensland Cup in July while Chamalu won a maiden on debut, before tackling the Golden Rose at his second start.
Birchley has had two wins and a second in the Karaka Million and there is a chance Chamalu could be a contender for the Karaka Mile at Ellerslie in January.
Sydney trainer Chris Waller has nominated three horses for the Auckland Cup, including Who Shot Thebarman, a previous winner of the race, and Murphy's Delight, who beat Pop 'N' Scotch in the Queensland Cup.
- NZ Racing Desk