Thurlow dreaming of another Auckland Cup

  • user
  • February 20, 2024
  • No Comments

By Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Waverley trainer Bill Thurlow claimed the Auckland Cup (3200m) with his top stayer Glory Days in 2019, and five years on he is daring to dream of adding another to his mantle.

While the race no longer holds the elite-level status it did in his first triumph, Thurlow is still keen to claim New Zealand’s top two-mile prize with Whangaehu following his dominant performance in the AFFCO NZ Ltd Wairoa Cup (2100m) at Hastings on Sunday.

From his outside gate, Swedish jockey Per-Anders Graberg made a beeline for the fence with Whangaehu where he was able to find cover three-back behind key rivals Enright and Pep Torque, with the five-year-old gelding enjoying an economical passage throughout.

Graberg was able to find clear running room at the 200m mark and Whangaehu showed a blistering turn of foot to quickly claim the lead and run away to an extending four-length victory, giving Graberg his first win on New Zealand soil.

Thurlow was rapt with Whangaehu’s performance and is now looking forward to heading north next month to tackle the Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup.

“He was very dominant,” Thurlow said. “His three runs since coming back from Australia had all been on rain-affected footing. He won his first one on ability and his third run was very good on a heavy track, so we were looking forward to getting him on a Good track.”

Whangaehu began his racing career under Thurlow’s care, but soon found himself in leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller’s stable, for whom he had two victories before returning to Thurlow last year.

The Taranaki horseman has always thought highly of the son of Proisir and is pleased to see that promise translated to raceday.

“He has always been a promising horse. He won his second start for us before he went to Aussie and looked like he was going to be a very good horse,” he said.

“He won a couple of races over there but maybe just didn’t fit in as well as he could have for one reason or another, which happens. He is a pretty handy horse.”

Whangaehu will now likely head straight to the Auckland Cup, with Thurlow citing the distance between his Taranaki base and Ellerslie as the major deterrent of tackling another lead-in race.

“The Auckland Cup is the logical place to head with him now,” Thurlow said. “He had to do what he did yesterday to carry on, but he did win really well on a Good surface, which is what we have been looking for, so we will push onto that race.

“I’ll discuss it with the owners, but I think he won‘t race again until the Cup. He could go up the week before to line-up in the old Nathans, but we are mindful of the length of travel from here. Week-on-week it is probably too much to ask, so we will probably get him ready at home.”

A day prior, Thurlow had a pleasing result at Ellerslie when No Rain Ever ran home well for third in the Listed SKYCITY Horizon Uncle Remus Stakes (1200m) behind Pericles and Just A Floozie.

“It was outstanding what she did,” Thurlow said. “They ran a blistering speed, two seconds quicker than the open horses over 1200m.

“It was her first time that way (right-handed) and when she jumped out of the gates you could see she was a little bit lost and on the wrong leg, but once she got going she was very good. We are really happy with her going forward.

“There is a race up there (Ellerslie) again for her in two weeks, but we are really mindful of the travelling with those young horses, so we might wait two weeks and go to Wellington (for the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas, 1400m) on Oaks Day.”

Field Of Gold was also in action at Ellerslie, finishing 10th in his 1500m contest.

“Field Of Gold has come through it really well,” Thurlow said. “I wasn’t disappointed with his run at all, it just wasn’t really his race, he went up as a mate for No Rain Ever. The owners live up in Auckland and it was nice for him to go up there and race.”

Meanwhile, Thurlow’s Group One winner No Compromise has headed to the spelling paddock following his last-placed run in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m).

“We were disappointed with his last run, so we have elected to put him in the paddock and he will come back in the spring and we will see where we go from there,” Thurlow said. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.