There is a historical uniqueness about the Whangārei Gold Cup to be tomorrow in Ruakaka by Whangārei ITM principal Shayne Heape.
The trophy to be presented tomorrow for the ITM/GIB Whangārei Gold Cup race will be the 90-year-old original gold cup presented in 1929 when the race was run over one and a quarter mile (about 2012 metres) at Kensington Park. In 1929, the race was won by Sir Archie, owned by H J Brays.
Each year the winning owner retains the cup for a year and then returns it to the Whangārei Racing Club for the formal presentation to the new winning connections on the race day.
There would not be many clubs able to perpetually present the same cup over such a long period of time.
The cup field rarely attracts great depth, given the time of the year and the comparatively lower prize money compared to other provincial cups funded by NZ Thoroughbred Racing, but there are two potential younger winter stayers in Poker Face and Redcayenne looking to establish their credentials for better types of races later this winter.
Poker Face was a very impressive winner last start at Ruakākā when tackling a staying distance for the first time for the local training partnership of Chris Gibbs and Michelle Bradley.
The 5-year-old has always appreciated the better track conditions of the course but is now showing his true potential without the travel from the previously Waikato-based Roger James' stables.
The other form race could be the Orora Kiwi Packaging Kiwifruit Cup in which Kipling Girl and Redcayenne were the place-getters behind Valante.
The Tony Pike 5-year-old Redcayenne should be the big improver from that race given his dislike of the heavy track of that day.
If you go back to his win at Trentham on a premier day in January this year when he led and won strongly over 2200 metres, it is likely he will compete with Poker Face for favouritism in the cup.
The two older proven winter stayers are He's Cavalier and the local Rae Racing Stables favourite Kaharau, who won an open hurdle trial on July 1, so he maybe a lot more focused in his racing and has run second in the race in 2017 to Smedley.
What a tough campaigner He's Cavalier is for his owner/trainer James Hatton.
A winner of more than $200,000 from eight wins, the gelding was second to Poker Face at his last Ruakākā start in a rating 82 handicap but had to carry 61.5kg, a massive 7.5kg more than the winner.
Under the open handicap conditions of the cup race, He's Cavalier will be much better suited at the weights, with a comparative reduction of 3.5kg to Poker Face when they last met.
The local stable of Kenny Rae and his daughter Krystal Williams-Tuhoro has concentrated on racing in the northern region this winter and not had a satellite stable based at Riccarton, consequently, there have been regular winners with financial windfalls for their owners given the big dividends.
With five runners tomorrow they should maintain a healthy strike rate and Viola Vega in the Hirepool rating 65 over 1200 metres was so impressive winning her maiden back in June that this 3-year-old filly by star stallion Shocking could lead their runners' chances.
The local contingent of starters will include many from the Gibbs/Bradley partnership who will have well favoured runners in many races. Mac Attacka is likely to be the shortest priced of all their runners in the United Security Northland 1600 metres.
A winner of two from two starts at the track this winter the 3-year-old Makfi gelding will be destined for bigger things in the spring, but this race type is a bonus race opportunity for his connections that include the Singapore-based Donna Logan and Graham Forbes.
Given that ownership mix perhaps he is a future Singapore runner as the Makfi's have an enviable record at the Kranji track.
Mac Attacka may also be a standout selection in one of the legs of the $100,000 turbo terminating pick six the NZ TAB is conducting on the last three races at both Trentham and Ruakaka. This promotion in July saw a substantial dividend last Saturday.
This middle of winter meeting doesn't attract great depth but when you reflect on last year's winners that included the Sistema Railway Stakes winner Santa Monica there is always an opportunity to see a quality galloper.
Other winners on the day last year included Major Tom, Vinevale, Von Trapp, Benaud, Veine D'Or and Aim Smart.
■ Tomorrow's field, page 27.