The stewards' report from Riccarton on Saturday has some interesting inserts, none more so than questions around hot favourite Prom Queen.
Stewards reported: "Prom Queen (Alysha Collett) - Blundered at the start and shifted outwards crowding Dijon Bleu. When questioned regarding performance rider was of the opinion that the filly may not have seen out the 1600 metre distance. Co-trainer K Rae was spoken to in relation to comments made in a post race interview regarding Prom Queen's fitness leading into today's race. Mr Rae advised that bloods had been taken from the filly on Thursday with test results being clear. Mr Rae further advised that he had developed concerns with the environment in which the filly was stabled and elected to change her stabling location for the last two days but had been happy with her condition going into today's race. After reviewing the Trackside interview and considering the explanation of Mr Rae no further action was considered necessary."
The questions around the change of stabling were publicly answered by Kenny Rae yesterday.
"The club's accommodation for visitors got very dusty. The filly [Prom Queen] started to cough, so I moved her out to Prebbleton a couple of days out. I took blood tests off her and it showed her to be okay."
Rae does not accept Prom Queen will not manage 1600m and does not believe that was the reason for her beaten performance.
"I hate making excuses, I always have." Helping support Rae's belief is the way Prom Queen travelled when she sneaked through on the inside of the leader and into the lead at the top of the home straight. She was immediately under pressure and at that stage had galloped barely 1200m. She had already won easily at 1400m.
"All day the inside section of the track was slow. That didn't help her at all." It begs the question whether the Canterbury Jockey Club should consider dropping the Cup meeting back from three days to two.
The Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday meeting saw 404 starters go around in 33 races. The grass coverage to start was wonderful, but 404 animals at 550kg and with a leg on each corner can do an awful lot of damage.
A couple of years ago the Auckland Racing Club canned it's middle day of three from its Derby and Auckland Cup meeting in March and the results, financially and in terms of the track quality, were excellent. The ARC used to run the Auckland Cup on the Wednesday and adding it to one of the Saturdays shored up the day as it would if the CJC dropped back to two days and added the Couplands Bakeries to the first day. New Zealand Cup day on the final Saturday needs no help, the crowd at Riccarton on Saturday was remarkable. The 2000 Guineas and Couplands Mile on the first day would be an even greater attraction than at present.
The results in the second half of the Riccarton card proved the middle of the track and wider was the place to be. Hasahalo won the 1000 Guineas as the widest horse on the track.
Gobstopper had favourite Pentathlon beaten 350m out, but he lugged out noticeably, getting into progressively better footing in the run to the winning post, adding to the three and a half length margin.
In Race 11 apprentice Kate Cowan had the race easily won at the 200m on Ruby Row, but paid the price for sticking to the inside rail when Opie Bosson came down the outside to win by a long head on outsider Pendleton.
Drawing barrier No1 cost runaway first day winner Director a back-up victory in the last. Chris Johnson looked to lead again, but he got crossed, which allowed those outside him to commit him to an inside run from the home turn.
Food for thought.