Ourforeignminister set to rule at home meeting Thu, 05 Jul 2012
Te Awamutu trainer Richard Otto is keen to try a different path with Ourforeignminister after this weekend’s mission.
Otto would love to win tomorrow’s $25,000 Freight Lines Te Awamutu Cup with Ourforeignminister and if that happens he could step the Australian-bred gelding into new territory.
“I really want to try him over ground,” said Otto. “He hasn’t been past 1600, but I think he’d handle 2000 really well, especially now that he’s older and stronger. If he wins well on Saturday there’s three weeks to the Taumarunui Cup (over 2100) and it could be a good one to go for. He likes Te Rapa and that’s an advantage.”
Te Rapa is proving more and more a horses for courses track and Ourforeignminister’s record on the track includes two wins and two seconds. He cleared maiden ranks at Te Rapa and was a winner in Rating 80 grade, then last winter he was runner-up to subsequent Matamata Cup winner No Excuse Maggie on the track.
Twelve months ago Ourforeignminister chased home Hurricane Mickey in the Te Awamutu Cup and Otto is keen to go one better this time. “It’s always good to win your local feature,” said Otto. “I’ve hardly ever had a runner in the race. I’d love to win it. The majority of the owners are locals so it would be great for them, too.”
Ourforeignminister’s owners include Otto’s brother and former training partner, Chris, who has gone back dairy farming.
Ourforeignminister has been a good moneyspinner for his owners, having won six races and more than $120,000 in prizemoney. The latest boost to the bank came at Tauranga on June 23 when he fought strongly to win a Rating 85 1600 metres in heavy ground.
“He’s probably a bit more forward now than he was this time last year,” said Otto. “He’s in a good mood and in good form and I think he’s improved since Tauranga.”
Adding to the confidence in the camp is the fact Otto has secured the in-form Jason Collett to ride Ourforeignminister tomorrow. Collett has had one ride on the Dubai Destination gelding and that was in November 2009 when sixth in a maiden race at Te Rapa, but he has watched the horse develop into a talented performer.
Ourforeignminister picked up three wins last year, including a double early this season. He won the Interprovincial at New Plymouth then later turned the tables on his Te Rapa conqueror No Excuse Maggie when beating her in the Gr.3 Merial Ancare Metric Mile at Awapuni.
Ourforeignminister’s opposition in the Te Awamutu Cup includes another local, Te Toro Lass, who won an open 1400 metres at Ellerslie before a last-start eighth in the Listed Team Wealleans Tauranga Classic.
“She disappointed a bit the other day at Tauranga,” said co-trainer Graeme Sanders. “She looked the winner 100 metres out then compounded the last bit.”
Te Toro Lass will be having her fifth start beyond 1400 metres and has yet to succeed. She has failed in three 1600-metre attempts and her only placing was a second over the Te Awamutu Cup course and distance in Rating 80 company 12 months ago.
“She’s struggled to get the 1580, but we’ll ride her a bit quieter this time and hopefully she can see it out,” said Sanders. “She’s better at 1400, but on her home track she’s a chance.”
Hurricane Mickey and John Gray, the first and third placegetters in last year’s Te Awamutu Cup, are back again. Hurricane Mickey hasn’t threatened so far this campaign and is being dropped back in distance after failing to see out the 2100 metres of the Kiwifruit Cup, while John Gray has been running useful races and is ready to make his presence felt.
Happyto Keepa will be facing her first test beyond 1400 metres, but the way she has been fighting on lately suggests she could master the 1580 at Te Awamutu. She won gamely at Te Rapa then tried hard when third to Innovation in the Listed Tauranga Classic.
Art Beat was fifth in the Tauranga Classic and is edging closer to a return to top form. A loose and heavy track would play into her hands as was the case on occasions last year.
The versatile galloper The Jungle Boy is the clear topweight and can never be overlooked. He proved that when winning over 1600 at Ellerslie in his first start since the 3200-metre Auckland Cup three months earlier. He has been a winner and runner-up over 2000 on the Te Awamutu track.
Atom Cat has been off the winner’s list since the 2010 Team Wealleans Matamata Cup. He trekked to Queensland last winter and picked up a couple of stakes placings and his last couple of starts suggest he could be a big improver tomorrow.
Taking The Mickey, now a rising 11-year-old, has had to settle for minor placings since his last win, at Tauranga just over two years ago. But the oldtimer picked up another cheque two starts ago when third to The Jungle Boy at Ellerslie and drops back from a seventh in the Kiwifruit Cup.