John Wheeler won't be at Ellerslie when Pentathlon and Irish Flame shoot for a group one double today - but he has a fair excuse.
Wheeler and his wife Linda are playing tour guides for a trip of a lifetime to watch the world's best jumpers at the Cheltenham Festival in England and the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan.
Rather than a trip of a lifetime, jockey Lisa Allpress, booked to ride the Wheeler pair at Ellerslie, will be happy with a trouble-free, economical trip in each of the features.
She rode Pentathlon in the Nathans Memorial (2200m) at Ellerslie last Saturday and was delighted with the Pentire five-year-old's lead-up effort ahead of today's Auckland Cup.
"It was a pretty good run considering he carried 60 kilos. I really wanted to stay on the fence but managed to tack on to the back of Chenille and let her drag us into the race," Allpress said. "With his big weight he couldn't stay with Chenille but it was a good run and dropping back to 55 kilos on Saturday, he should be a big chance.
"He's proven over 3200m. He went massive in the Melbourne Cup and in a couple of leadup races over there. I won the Chalmers [Handicap, 3200m] on him last year and he was close-up in the Wellington and Auckland Cups, so the distance won't be a problem."
Allpress has also picked up the ride on stablemate Irish Flame for the Sistema Stakes (1200m), the Zed gelding looking for a repeat of his last-start win in the Phoenix Park 2YO Classic (1200m) at New Plymouth.
"It's a strong race and it's always hard to beat those northern two-year-olds, especially the ones who have had a run around Ellerslie."
Allpress has five rides at Ellerslie today and was especially excited to be riding New York Minute first-up. NZ Racing Desk