Who Will Be Hero In Hunter Cup?

30 January 2020 | Chris Barsby

As it stands for the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season, we have witnessed five different winners from as many legs to date.

Entering the sixth leg of the APG Grand Circuit, the $500,000 Del-Re National Hunter Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton this Saturday night, millionaire pacer Bling It On has a chance of becoming a dual winner this current term.

The Craig Cross trained entire scored in the opening leg of the season, the Victoria Cup at this track back on October 12 and shoots for further feature race glory this weekend.

Bling It On, a winner of the Hunter Cup back in 2017 returned from an unsuccessful Inter Dominion campaign in Auckland in December with a brilliant victory at Goulburn two weeks ago.

The American Ideal entire must overcome a second-line draw (gate 10) but has the services of champion reinsman Luke McCarthy.

When looking for the last pacer to complete the Victoria/Hunter Cups double in the same season, you don’t need to look to far back through the pages of history.

Star pacer Tiger Tara completed the double last season.

Cross, based at Cobbitty in New South Wales, also prepares the ideally drawn Alta Orlando (gate 1) and Cash N Flow (gate 5) plus the emergency King Of Swing (gate 3).

All three pacers boast outstanding recent form and have legitimate claims.

Bathurst pacer Our Uncle Sam, a runner-up to Tiger Tara in the event last year, has drawn nicely and will start from the inside of the second-line (gate 8) and looms as a definite threat again.

The Hunter Cup is a famed staying feature on the Australian calendar, rising to notoriety with the famous Kiwi raids during the late 1990’s and early 2000 years at Moonee Valley.

Since moving to Melton in 2011, the Kiwi pacers have still held a dominant grip on the silverware winning six of the nine editions.

In 2017, the Hunter Cup switched from the standing start procedure to a mobile start event and dropped in distance, now raced at the distance of 2760m.

A quartet of New Zealand trained pacers will start this weekend headlined by the last start Ballarat Cup winner A G’s White Socks (gate 11), the All Stars prepared Chase Auckland (gate 4) plus the North Island prepared duo of Mach Shard (gate 2) and Triple Eight (gate 6).

Interestingly, Barry Purdon (trainer of Mach Shard) scored in the 1996 Hunter Cup with Vics Vance before backing it up the following year with Surprise Package, David Butcher (driver of Triple Eight) tasted success with the incomparable Elsu in 2005 while the tally of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in this race currently sits at three (Blacks A Fake - 2008, Smolda - 2016 and Lazarus - 2018).

Since the turn of the century, Victorian trained pacers have won their home state feature five times with Safe And Sound (2002), Mont Denver Gold (2003), About To Rock (2006), Sting Lika Bee (2007) and Arden Rooney (2015) proving triumphant.

Representing the Big ‘V’ this year is boom four-year-old Lochinvar Art (gate 7), Code Bailey (gate 9), San Carlo (gate 12) and My Kiwi Mate (gate 13).

History is against Lochinvar Art with no four-year-old winning the Hunter Cup since being staged at Melton but the David Moran prepared pacer looked scintillating last week when he scorched home in the Gr.1 4yo Bonanza in a track record time of 1:48.6 (1720m).

In fact, no four-year-old has won the event since undergoing a massive transformation back in 1993.

The Hunter Cup is scheduled as race 8 and listed to start at 9.30pm local time.