Group One-winning stayer Glory Days will make her race day return at Awapuni tomorrow and trainer Bill Thurlow is hoping it is the start of a path towards the Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
The 7-year-old mare ran home well to finish third in the Sydney Cup last year after taking out the Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) a month prior.
Having recorded two pleasing results in two of Australasia's Group One 3200m races, Thurlow was keen to add a third and set his mare on a path towards the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) in November.
The daughter of Red Giant recorded fifth-placings in her first two Melbourne runs in the spring, including the Gr.3 JRA Cup (2030m) at Moonee Valley, before disappointing when finishing ninth in the Gr.2 Herbert Power (2400m).
Her Melbourne Cup aspirations were cut short after that run due to a suspected paddock accident.
"I thought she had gone super in her first two runs," Thurlow said. "I thought her last run was a little bit average for her, it was a bit out of character.
"You always look back and try and analyse things and try and work out what went wrong, but there is a good chance that maybe she was feeling something then because it just wasn't her, she just didn't let down and it was very firm that day. The paddock injury is only what we suspected. We just don't know what happened. She went into her box fine and came out of the box with a blown up leg the next morning."
While the cause of the swelling in her leg remains unknown, Thurlow said she has recovered well and he is cautiously looking forward to her upcoming campaign.
"She had 10 days over there (Melbourne) and was very well cared for," he said. "She had scans, x-rays, and comprehensive vet checks.
"Everything was absolutely perfect, her joint was good, all her ligaments were good, there were no problems, it (leg) just had a lot of filling. It took a little bit of time to get that out, so she came back here and rested and we just started ticking her over quietly. I am really happy with her. She is 100 per cent sound and she has recovered well."
Glory Days will start in the Carters Ashhurst Pohangina Cup (1200m) at Awapuni tomorrow, but Thurlow is cautioning punters not to expect too much from his mare. "1200m is too short."
"She might go to Otaki for the mile after Friday and then the main run will be her third one, which will hopefully be the Bonecrusher (Gr.1, 2000m) at Ellerslie."
While Glory Days won't defend her crown in the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m), Thurlow still has aspirations of crossing the Tasman for another two mile challenge.
"That's our plan to get her back to Sydney, for the Sydney Cup, that will be great."
Thurlow will also line-up Rockoneve in the Aranui Harvesters 1550 at Awapuni tomorrow.
"She has been going really honest races, she has just been a bit luckless really," he said.
Meanwhile, Thurlow will take just the one runner to Tauherenikau's meeting today, with Capital Gains contesting the Tui — Backing A Winner Since 1889 Maiden (1600m).
"He is going along pretty well at the moment, so I expect him to go well." ● Invercargill races were abandoned yesterday.
- NZ Racing Desk