"The Captain" to take on smart field in Invercargill Cup

He was just a maiden having his third race start at this meeting last year, but today Captain Dolmio (thanks to Bruce Stewart for the photo) locks horns with a top field in the Group Three Invercargill Trotting Cup to be run over the 3200m.

The development of the horse in the last 12 months has seen him rise quickly through the ranks and he is now regarded as one of the South Island's more promising horses. From just the 19 race starts, he has recorded the six wins, with a further eight placings, for over $60,000 in stakes. Owned by the Captain Dolmio syndicate, who just love racing and following their pride and joy, Captain Dolmio returned to Woodend Beach after his previous run, where he ran a tough third in the Oamakau Cup, also run at Group Three level. He was prepared for that race by one of his owners in Matt Brinsdon.

Today's field is another step up in company for Captain Dolmio. Champion pacer Christen Me dominates the field in terms of everything that he has done, including his winning stakes of nearly $2.5 million. Heaven Rocks is a prodigious talent, but still with some flaws in his game. Classie Brigade, Maverick and Ears Burning give Nigel McGrath a three-pronged attack in the race. They can all run time over the distance, as evidenced by Classie Brigade's winning time of 3.58.3 to win the Ashburton Cup on Boxing Day

However, in Captain Dolmio, they all come up against a horse on the rise and a horse that can run time. Back in April last year, we were first shown his staying prowess as he won a moderate C1 race at Addington, pulverising that field in 3.07.7. During Cup Week, he took on Mr Mojito and went toe-to-toe with him, setting up a new New Zealand record for the 2600m of 3.06.3. He then went on to win convincingly on Show Day, before his very good third at Omakau after being the one horse to do work in the running.

He returned to the beach in great condition and will be well ready for today, based on a winning workout last week at Rangiora where he simply jogged it in 3.25.3 for the 2600m, running home over his last 800m in 55.3 and his last 400m in 25.8.

Driver John Dunn will be looking to step the Grinfromeartoear 5yr old from his 10m handicap and get forward early. The horse races best up on the pace and you can be sure that he will be looking to take advantage of the handicapping. If the race is run at a genuine pace, as appears likely, it will make it hard for the backmarkers to get into the race.

The hardest to beat must surely be Christen Me. He has been a champion over many seasons and his stand start manners are such that he will eat up his handicap quicker than most. He has recorded two good seconds in his last five starts behind Lazarus and that is compelling form for today considering what that horse has done. Classie Brigade chased home Lazarus in some big races last season and is has really found his best form again heading into today. He is a great stayer but will need to step well early, with only that 10m advantage over Christen Me.

The race is sure to be a belter and the one thing for sure is that Matt Brinsdon and his mates will enjoy the occasion like they always do. How they approach a race day is refreshing and is one that many others in the industry could well embrace.

Posted: Sat 28 Jan 2017