It has been 13 years since expatriate Kiwi trainer Paul Jenkins won the Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) and he is hoping for a repeat in this year’s running of the Barfoot and Thompson-sponsored Ellerslie feature.
Jenkins moved to Queensland from his former Matamata base six years ago and has returned to his old stomping ground with Tavistock five-year-old mare Toni May in the hopes of taking out the two- mile race.
Bred by Sir Patrick and Justine Lady Hogan, Toni May has been residing at Brendan and Jo Lindsay’s Karaka property since arriving in the country last Wednesday morning.
Currently ranked 20th in the order of entry for the Cup, Jenkins is happy with the way his runner has settled in and is set to line her up in the Auckland Co-Op Taxis 2200.
“I’m really pleased with the way she is going,” he said. “She’s thrived since she has got over here.
“She’s going to run on Saturday and then back up. It’s a qualifying race for the Auckland Cup, if she was able to win it then she would automatically be in, which she is not at present.”
The Auckland Cup means a lot to Jenkins, who won the 2005 running of the race with Zabeel mare Bazelle, who went on to further Group One honours when taking out the Zabeel Classic (2000m) later that year.
Coincidentally, Jenkins was on track at Matamata on Saturday to catch-up with some old friends and was able to watch her Group Two-winning son Show The World take out the Listed Kaimai Stakes (2000m).
“It was nice to see him win,” he said. “I caught up with a lot of people, it was nice actually.
“I have also been and seen Bazelle, who has a nice Charm Spirit filly at foot, the old mare is still producing nice foals.”
Jenkins said he is enjoying his time in Queensland, where he trains half a dozen horses at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club as well as running a small cleaning business.
“Queensland has been good. It is a nice, easy, comfortable place for me and I can make a living and don’t have a lot of stress.
“I’m getting a bit old now, I don’t need any headaches or stress, it’s just an easy option. It’s mainly a lifestyle choice and I only train a handful of horses at Caloundra.
“They have 60 to 70 meetings a year without us having to travel anywhere so that helps a great deal. There’s always a half decent crowd there with a bit of atmosphere, which is a bit of fun.
“I’m happy there at this stage. If the right thing turned up I’d probably move somewhere else, but at this point in time I am quite content there.”
In the meantime, Jenkins is focusing on his tilt at the Auckland Cup and hopes Toni May can collect the spoils on Saturday week, thirteen years on from Bazelle.
“It would be great to win another,” he said. “Particularly for Simon Withers who owns her. He’s been a good client for a while and I’ve won a lot of races for him but I’ve never been able to win a good one for him.” – NZ Racing Desk.