Trainer Stephen Marsh is hoping lightning can strike twice when he lines up Lincoln King and Starrybeel in Sunday’s Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie.
The pair quinellaed the Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham in January and after impressing Marsh with their final lead-up efforts in last week’s Nathans Memorial (2200m), where they finished second and seventh respectively, he is confident he has them ready for Sunday.
“They have both trained on really well after a freshen up following their Trentham efforts,” Marsh said.
“They both went huge at Ellerslie last week, have drawn perfectly and are right on song for this week.
“We also know they are proven over the trip which is a major factor.
“I couldn’t fault either of them and while this Cup may have a little more depth than at Trentham, we are in there with a chance.”
TAB Bookmakers didn’t miss the eye-catching runs of both horses last weekend and have installed Lincoln King as the $7.50 third favourite in the event behind Concert Hall ($3.80) and Sound ($4) while Starrybeel sits on the fourth line of betting at a $10 quote.
Marsh will also be focused on the Trentham meeting on Saturday which sees the return of smart three-year-old Mercurial.
Unsighted since finishing fourth behind Pareanui Bay in the Gr.2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial (1400m) at Te Rapa back in October, the son of Burgundy is accepted for two races on Saturday but is likely to take his place in the Harrisons Carpets 3YO (1200m) with Johnathan Parkes aboard.
“He is going really well and we will most likely look towards the three-year-old race with Johnathan Parkes on him,” Marsh said.
“He has just had one or two little foot issues and a virus, but he is back in action now.
“I’m not sure where we will go with him after Saturday but a good race for him might be the Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.3, 1200m) at Te Rapa in late April.”
Marsh has taken an active role at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka this week, purchasing seven youngsters during the Book 1 session, including outlaying $280,000 for a Tivaci filly (Lot 383) from the Waikato Stud draft, while he purchased a colt for $75,000 by Rich Hill stallion Shocking (Lot 716) from the Brighthill Farm draft at the start of the Book 2 sale on Thursday.
“They are lovely horses, with shares available, so I encourage people to contact me to get involved with us and we may have a few more to come as well,” he said.
“We are also likely to receive two or three of the horses purchased by Albert Bosma and his Go Racing team, which is also very exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing what we have to work with once the sale ends.”