Racing: Sampson out of Wellington Cup

By NZ Racing Desk

Howie Mathews has withdrawn Sampson from the Wellington Cup,  saying he would have to carry too much weight. Photo / Race Images
Howie Mathews has withdrawn Sampson from the Wellington Cup, saying he would have to carry too much weight. Photo / Race Images

Otaki trainer Howie Mathews has warned that the Wellington Cup could become a "glorified hack race" unless something is done to change the handicap conditions of the event.

Mathews withdrew Sampson from the feature at Trentham on January 21 when it became apparent the 7-year-old Dubai Destination gelding would carry 60kg as a 90-rated galloper.

As it now stands, the Kenny and Lisa Rae and Krystal Williams-Tuhoro-trained Kaharau is the highest-rated entry on 89 rating points.

"We've pulled him out. He's a 90 rating horse with 60kg. It would have been a waste of our time and money," Mathews said.

"I'd like to have a bit of longevity with the horse and he's not up to carrying 60kg in a two-mile race. He's no Mainbrace.

"Champions can do it, but he's no champion.

"Unfortunately, there's just a poor calibre of stayer in New Zealand at the moment and it's a shame the Wellington Cup has been affected like this.

This year it's going to be run as a hack race.

"We all wanted the Wellington Cup back to a two-mile race, but this year we'll end up with a topweight on 88 or 89 rating points."

Two of the time-honoured Wellington carnival handicap features, the R. & N. Berkett Telegraph (1200m) and the Harcourt's Thorndon Mile, have been changed to set weights and penalties conditions in recent years.

The Mills Reef Winery Trentham Stakes is also run under set weights and penalties conditions, when traditionally it was a weight-for-age race.

Unfortunately, there's just a poor calibre of stayer in New Zealand at the moment and it's a shame the Wellington Cup has been affected like this.
Howie Mathews

Sampson will carry 60kg in the Gallagher Marton Cup (2200m) at Trentham today and while Mathews says he doesn't think his stayer can win under that weight, the race serves as a suitable lead-up to the Trentham Stakes, in which he will carry 55kg.

He will then look at staying features in the north, which in recent months have attracted higher-rated topweights. "He's going around this weekend with 60kg against horses with 53kg with winning form," Mathews said.

"He went a terrific race for fourth in the Manawatu Cup, but there again he carried a big weight and the horses that finished first and second carried 53kg and we've got to come up against them again this weekend.

"It'll be hard to beat Jacksstar and Balham again on Saturday, but he's a good chance of a third or fourth placing.

"If he runs well, I'll probably back up in the Trentham Stakes then look at the Karaka Stayers' Cup [at Ellerslie on January 29] and the Avondale Cup."

- NZ Racing Desk

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