Group 1-winning stayer Glory Days will make her raceday return at Awapuni on Friday and trainer Bill Thurlow is hoping it is the start of a path towards the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m). The seven-year-old mare ran home well to finish third in the Sydney Cup last year after taking out the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) a month prior.
Having recorded two pleasing results in two of Australasia’s Group 1 3200m races, Thurlow was keen to add a third and set his mare on a path towards the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) in November. The daughter of Red Giant recorded fifth-placings in her first two Melbourne runs in the spring, including the Group 3 JRA Cup (2030m) at Moonee Valley, before disappointing when finishing ninth in the Group 2 Herbert Power (2400m).
Her Melbourne Cup aspirations were cut short after that run due to a suspected paddock accident. “I thought she had gone super in her first two runs,” Thurlow said. “I thought her last run was a little bit average for her, it was a bit out of character. “You always look back and try and analyse things and try and work out what went wrong, but there is a good chance that maybe she was feeling something then because it just wasn’t her, she just didn’t let down and it was very firm that day. “The paddock injury is only what we suspected. We just don’t know what happened. She went into her box fine and came out of the box with a blown up leg the next morning.”
While the cause of the swelling in her leg remains unknown, Thurlow said she has recovered well and he is cautiously looking forward to her upcoming campaign. “She had 10 days over there (Melbourne) and was very well cared for,” he said. “She had scans, x-rays, and comprehensive vet checks.
“Everything was absolutely perfect, her joint was good, all her ligaments were good, there were no problems, it (leg) just had a lot of filling. “It took a little bit of time to get that out, so she came back here and rested and we just started ticking her over quietly. I am really happy with her. She is 100 percent sound and she has recovered well. “But once they have had an injury like that, you are always a little bit worried that things can go wrong again.”
Glory Days will start in the Carters Ashhurst Pohangina Cup (1200m) at Awapuni on Friday, but Thurlow is cautioning punters not to expect too much from his mare. “It will be more like a trial on Friday because there have been no trials or jump outs in the Central Districts with the firm tracks,” he said. “I would have loved to have given her a trial somewhere, but it just hasn’t worked. 1200m is too short.”
Thurlow said she will likely have one more start after Friday before she targets elite-level races. “She might go to Otaki for the mile after Friday and then the main run will be her third one, which will hopefully be the Bonecrusher (Group 1, 2000m) at Ellerslie. “If we can get there we would be pretty happy.”
While Glory Days won’t defend her crown in the Group 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m), Thurlow still has aspirations of crossing the Tasman for another two mile challenge. “We haven’t had enough time to get her to go two miles at this stage, but after that, if we are happy with her, she could go back to Sydney,” he said. “That’s our plan to get her back to Sydney, for the Sydney Cup, that will be great. There is also the Queen Elizabeth (Group 1, 2000m). We will just see how she is, but we couldn’t be more happy with her at the moment.
Thurlow will also line-up Rockoneve in the Aranui Harvesters 1550 at Awapuni on Friday. The Road To Rock six-year-old has finished sixth in her last three starts and Thurlow believes she just needs to get a bit more luck in her runs. “She has been going really honest races, she has just been a bit luckless really,” he said. “You can’t keep making excuses for her, but she does get back in her races and needs a lot of luck and hasn’t had enough luck. She could have probably won two of her last three starts.”
Meanwhile, Thurlow will take just the one runner to Tauherenikau’s meeting on Thursday, with Capital Gains contesting the Tui – Backing A Winner Since 1889 Maiden (1600m). “Capital Gains is a nice, progressive horse,” Thurlow said. “I think he will make a handy stayer, but it might just take him another six months. “He is going along pretty well at the moment, so I expect him to go well.”