The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman trained Gundown emerged as a genuine lightweight prospect for next Saturday’s Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) after winning handsomely at Ellerslie on the weekend.
The lightly-raced four-year-old produced a powerful home straight surge to defeat stablemate Zacada in the traditional Cup lead-up, the Headquarters Viaduct Nathans Memorial (2200m), and thrust his name into contention for the Ellerslie two-miler.
Despite wanting to drift around in the home straight, Gundown gave rider Matt Cameron the feeling that he is ready to tackle the feature staying event at Ellerslie on March 9.
“The big goal is next week but it was good to see him show that turn of foot,” Cameron said.
“He can be quite a lazy horse and hard to get going, but he had plenty in the tank today, which is great.
“He’s been knocking at the door, just chipping away at them and his form is just starting to turn at the right time.”
Co-trainer Andrew Forsman was pleased to see the horse finish at the head of the field as he completed his Auckland Cup preparations.
“It was a brilliant run as he has been a touch of a bridesmaid over the last few months,” he said.
“He’s been racing in good form, just a bit frustrating, but really hit the line hard today.
“While the conditions of the race (Auckland Cup) won’t suit a horse like him that is coming through the grades, that’s just the way it is these days.
“In saying that, it looks like it will be a pretty even bunch and not that much harder than what he has come up against today.”
Forsman was confident that the two-mile journey of the Auckland Cup would be to the liking of his charge.
“3200m has always looked to be his go,” he said.
“He is a son of High Chaparral and bred to do the job, so I think it will suit him down to the ground.”
Forsman also confirmed that runner-up Zacada would now head to Sydney for the next stage of his campaign with the A$2million Sydney Cup (3200m) his main target, a race he finished runner-up in last year. – NZ Racing Desk