Plenty At Stake For Tiger Tara In Hunter Cup Quest

31 January 2019 | Chris Barsby

This tiger isn’t chasing his tail.

He’s chasing history.

Millionaire pacer Tiger Tara is aiming for another victory in the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit when he starts in Saturday’s Gr.1 $500,000 Del Re National A G Hunter Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton.

And the Melbourne track has been the scene of his greatest triumphs to date.

So far this season, the Kevin Pizzuto prepared hard-running stallion has captured the Victoria Cup and  Inter Dominion Grand Final and now looms as the horse to beat this weekend.

And if successful, it all but clinches the title of Grand Circuit champion.

But he needs to overcome several high quality rivals plus, and most importantly, history.

Only one pacer has ever won the Victoria Cup, Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup in the same season – just think about that for a moment.

Enter Preux Chevalier.

Sure the trio of Grand Circuit events has been claimed by the likes of Koala King, Blacks A Fake, Mr Feelgood and Lazarus in time, but they never achieved the feat in the same season!

The above mentioned list is the silk shirt department of the sport, they’re some of the greatest ever champions to grace a racetrack so the task confronting ‘Team Tiger’ is one of gigantic proportions.

But given his form this season, it’s almost unthinkable to say he can’t do it.

His victories in the Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion were mirror like, firing to the front before pulverizing his rivals with relentless power running.

It was poetry in motion.

Another highlight for Tiger Tara this season came via the New Zealand Cup at Addington back in November, the rugged stayer went down by a nose margin to his Hunter Cup rival Thefixer after doing a mountain of work outside of the leader for the 3200m stand-start feature.

This weekend, Tiger Tara has drawn ideally in gate three while Thefixer must overcome the worst possible draw, the outside of the second-line in the 2760m mobile start feature.

A repeat of his Victoria Cup and Inter Dominion performances is being tipped by most punters.

With only three legs of the 2018/19 Australian Gold Grand Circuit remain, the Hunter Cup, Miracle Mile and the Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship, Tiger Tara is a possibility of winning all of them and it starts with the Hunter Cup this weekend.

New Zealand trained stayers have a great record in the Hunter Cup and again this year, the Shaky Isles is well represented through the All Stars (Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen) duo of Thefixer (gate 11) and Cruz Bromac (gate 9) plus the Steve Reid trained Star Galleria (gate 10).

The draws aren’t kind and probably look more damaging given that Tiger Tara has drawn so well but the Kiwi trio all loom as legitimate threats.

Thefixer has 100 points for the Grand Circuit season while Star Galleria sits with 64; a victory for either pacer really enhances their claims of taking the title of Grand Circuit champion.

Champion trainer Tim Butt, now based in Sydney, has won the Hunter Cup 5 times previously (Mister D G, Mr Feelgood, Stunin Cullen, Choise Achiever and Mah Sish) and will send out former Great Northern Derby winner Raukapuka Ruler as his runner this year.

While it’s hard to recommend him on recent form and from a sticky draw (gate 5), he does have the services of Anthony Butt, the most successful driver in the event’s history with 7 victories.

Bathurst pacer Our Uncle Sam, a runner-up to Tiger Tara in the Inter Dominion in December, has drawn ideally and will start from the inside (gate 1) and looms as a definite threat again.

Trainer Chris Frisby started Dinki Di in the 2006 Hunter Cup (About To Rock) and finished 6th but will be hoping for a better result this year as Our Uncle Sam continues to improve and strengthen and looks a solid chance.

Since the year 2000, Victorian trained pacers have won their home state feature 4 times with Safe And Sound, Mont Denver Gold, Sting Lika Bee and Arden Rooney proving triumphant.

This year the state is represented by the likes of Flaming Flutter (gate 2), Buster Brady (gate 4), San Carlo (gate 6), Cant Refuse (gate 7) and Wrappers Delight (gate 8).

All boasting sound form, they will all require some luck from their respective draws.

The A G Hunter Cup is scheduled as race 7 and listed to start at 9.32pm local time.