Leading contender primed for Group 1 Auckland Cup

Charles Road winning. PIC: Trish Dunell.

While a number of candidates for the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) had their final hit-out at Ellerslie on Saturday, one of the leading contenders was safely tucked up back at his Matamata home base.

The Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott trained Charles Road leapt to the forefront of Cup calculations with his win in the Gr.3 City of Auckland Cup (2400m) on Karaka Million night in January.

A handy run for fourth in the Nathan’s Memorial (2400m) at Ellerslie last month kept him up to the mark with co-trainer Andrew Scott of the belief he is primed and ready for a big effort this coming weekend.

“He has done well since his last run and worked nicely at home on Saturday,” said Scott.

“He didn’t get all favours on an off track last time as the race wasn’t really run to suit when they dawdled along and just sprinted home. He showed a good turn of foot and was finishing off well, so we were really pleased with how he went.

“He’s a tall, athletic type of stayer who doesn’t need a lot of racing hence we didn’t think he needed to have another run before the Cup.

“He will have his last serious gallop on Tuesday morning and then it will just be a count-down to Saturday.”

Scott believes maturity achieved through experience has played a key role in the gelding’s progress after a disappointing start to his campaign in the spring.

“He’s just got better and better this campaign which we have put down to him maturing as he has gotten some more racing under his belt,” he said.

“He can still do a few things wrong but he has settled better in his races. I guess you never know if they are going to get the distance of the Cup until they have tried it but on what he has shown us lately I don’t think it will be a problem.

“What we do need is a good draw and a good run in the race as that is the key to it all. There look to be at least half a dozen good chances in the race so whoever gets the best trip will be the hardest to beat.”

Charles Road is currently rated as equal second favourite with Magic Chai at $6.50 on the TAB Fixed odds market for the race. Ladies First, who took out Saturday’s final lead-up race to the Cup, heads the market at a $4.50 quote.