IN Racing
McKay ready for Melbourne Cup Day at Wingatui
Ascot Park-based trainer Sally McKay is looking forward to the traditional Melbourne Cup raceday at Wingatui, hoping to prepare stable star Henry Hubber for Cup Week.
Kevin Robertson, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | November 05, 2023
Henry Hubber. (Monica Toretto)

Ascot Park-based trainer Sally McKay is looking forward to the traditional Melbourne Cup raceday at Wingatui on Tuesday with a small but select team of runners engaged.

Central amongst those is stable star Henry Hubber who will tackle the main race on the day, the Grand Casino (1400m) open handicap where he looks likely to start one of the main fancies.

The statuesque five-year-old has won four of his last six stars and although a last start eighth at Ashburton blots the impressive form line, it is a run that McKay is prepared to overlook.

“He didn’t have much luck last time,” McKay said.

“He got well back and they were smoking along up front but his sectionals were exceptional as he had to do a lot of work..

“He is the sort of horse that needs an uninterrupted run and I think he can get that on Tuesday so I’m really looking forward to seeing him perform up to his best.”

McKay has opted to start at Wingatui instead of taking the son of Rip Van Winkle to Christchurch for the first day of the New Zealand Cup Carnival on 11 November.

“I had been thinking I might go to Riccarton for the Pegasus Stakes (Listed, 1000m) on the first day of the Carnival,” she said.

“It’s a long way from Invercargill and we have him set for the Stewards Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Riccarton a week later so two trips in a week and racing on very firm tracks wasn’t really the best for him.

“The 1400m at Wingatui will fit him nicely for Riccarton as the Stewards always suits a tough horse that can finish on and that is what he is best at.”

McKay is also keen to see how her debutant winner Rochello measures up in a higher grade when she tackles the rating 65 1200m contest at Wingatui, where leading rider Tina Comignaghi retains the mount.

“Rochello was just superb at Gore first up and I think she is a mare with a very good future,” she said.

“She did her early work and education with Meg Cunneen and then made her way to me and I’ve liked her from day one.

“She had only had the one jumpout before her debut and although she was a little green at times, I thought she did a super job to win there.

“Tuesday will be a big test as there are some very nice horses lining up, but on her work since her first up effort I’m expecting her to measure up.”

Amongst the rivals for Rochello is stablemate Earl Of Orkney who is possibly in his last season of racing although McKay admits you wouldn’t think the eight-year-old believes that.

“Earl Of Orkney is second up and I’ve thought this could possibly be his last campaign,” McKay said.

“His form doesn’t read well but his work of late has been exceptional.

“He is bouncing around like a two-year-old and if he could recapture some of his old form they will know he has been in the race.” 

Henry Hubber Sally McKay Rochello Tina Comignaghi Lindauer Stewards Stakes Melbourne Cup Day Wingatui Earl Of Orkney