Cup dream stays alive

Glory Days
Glory Days winning the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m). Photo: Trish Dunell

The Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) dream is still alive for Group 1-winning stayer Glory Days and her connections. The pride of Waverley will be at odds greater than the Taranaki township’s favourite son, 1983 Melbourne Cup winner Kiwi, of making the race, but trainer Bill Thurlow has taken the ‘you have got to be in it to win it’ mentality.

“The dream’s still alive, but only just,” he said. “The owners were pretty keen to nominate her, so we did. You would be kicking yourself if she came up really well and you didn’t have a nomination.”

The daughter of Red Giant has an exceptional record at the two-mile distance of the cup, having performed well in Australasia’s two other Group 1 races over the distance, having won last year’s Auckland Cup before running third in the Sydney Cup.

Glory Days was heading towards the Melbourne Cup last year, however, those plans were curtailed through injury. She subsequently returned to the track in February, when she posted two unplaced results before finishing fourth in the Listed New Zealand St Leger (2600m).

She was retired after that run, however, she was brought back into work after her sale to overseas interests fell through. Thurlow’s stable stalwart has been pleasing him in her comeback preparation and he is hoping she can add one more cup victory to her resume before she retires to the broodmare paddock.

She will begin that journey at Hawera on Friday where she will contest the Michelle Payne Gold Cup 1600 where she will carry 61kg with the assistance of apprentice jockey Sarah Macnab’s 1kg claim. “She has got topweight, but she deserves it, and there’s nowhere to hide from that,” Thurlow said.

“She is reasonably forward. She has had a couple of jumpouts and a trial and seems to be improving all the time. I am pretty happy with her. “She will probably be struggling to win over a mile, but as long as she is running on at the end I will be happy.”

Glory Days is nominated for the last two legs of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown and Thurlow said she will have to perform well there to warrant a trip across the Tasman. “We will just see how we get on, but Hastings will be the barometer,” he said. “We just want to get through Friday, but there is a chance she won’t head to Hastings for the Windsor Park Plate (Group 1, 1600m). We may look for a race for her somewhere else and then go to the Livamol (Group 1, 2040m) at Hastings.”

While the Melbourne Cup may be a step too far for Glory Days this spring, the Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton in November remains the back-up plan for the talented stayer. “The New Zealand Cup might be a more realistic target,” Thurlow said.

Stablemate Beyond The Fort will also kick-off her spring preparation at Hawera in the Heather D Yaxley Martinez Trophy (1400m). “Beyond The Fort is first-up, I am really happy with her,” Thurlow said. “She is working well and she will have a similar preparation to Glory Days. “She has had a couple of jumpouts and a trial and she is coming along well. We expect a reasonably bold showing from her on Friday.”

Thurlow will also line-up last start placegetters Behind Blue Eyes, No Compromise, and Day Light on Friday. “I think they are all progressive horses that if they are placed right there are some wins in them,” he said.

“Behind Blue Eyes is one of my strongest chances, I quite like her. No Compromise is a really progressive horse. He should go well and hopefully keep going forward. “Day Light is the same, but the best won’t be seen from her until she gets over a bit more ground.”