Kevin Myers’ quest for a third victory in the Gr.3 Martin Collins New Zealand Cup (3200m) could be undone by a horse he provided to his nephew Ashley Meadows in generous circumstances.
Myers heads into the Riccarton feature with two solid chances: last year’s winner Mondorani and the current $4.50 TAB co-favourite Aljay, runner-up in last weekend’s Listed Nautical Boat Insurance Metropolitan Trophy (2500m).
But looming as a strong chance is Inmyshadow, who was originally with Myers before he generously handed the horse to Meadows.
“I had a group of owners who had a horse with me for the first time, but the original horse they had broke down before it had even had a gallop,” Meadows said.
“I was pre-training a few for Kevin and he was there and looking at that horse and he agreed the horse wasn’t going to be a racing proposition, and I said ‘they’re first-time owners, what am I going to do?’
“He said ‘you can have that one’, and gifted it to me. That was Inmyshadow.”
The gift couldn’t have worked out much better for Meadows, who trains at Awapuni, and the horse’s owners. The six-year-old has won five of his 18 races and has blossomed as he’s matured, winning four of his last seven starts.
At his most recent run he took advantage of a rails run to win a Rating 75 2200m contest at Awapuni on October 29, booking his trip to Riccarton. He was rated third-favourite for the race at $8.50 with the TAB.
“He’s always shown a lot of ability, but he was a bit toey early on and took a while to mature,” Meadows said.
“But this prep he has been going really well, and when he unexpectedly won fresh-up over 1400m we knew he was in for a good prep.
“Once he gets up over 2000m-plus he’s got a lot of talent.”
Apprentice Faye Lazet rode Inmyshadow to victory at his last start but with no claims available in the New Zealand Cup, regular rider Mereana Hudson will be back in the saddle.
“We planned this race for him six months ago, but he’ll be a better horse next year as a seven-year-old. If all goes well after Riccarton we could set him for the Wellington Cup (Gr.3, 3200m).”
Meadows, who has about 10 horses in work, has made a bright start to the 2022-23 season with four victories, two courtesy of Inmyshadow. Last season’s tally of eight is his highest to date as a trainer.
He has about 10 horses in work, though he has found things a little more difficult than usual in the last year after injuring his knee 12 months ago.
“I like to be very hands-on in my training, so that set me back quite a bit,” he said.
“It’s still on the mend, and I’m probably going to need a knee replacement eventually, though I’d like to delay that as long as possible.”
Inmyshadow will be the only runner for Meadows at Riccarton, but he will be kept busy with three horses running at Awapuni on Friday.
Meadows said the best chance among them was probably last-start maiden winner Dennismac in a Rating 65 1400m race.
“Ever since he was a young horse he’s shown ability, but he’s had a few hiccups and he had been disappointing at the races even when he had trialled well,” Meadows said.
“We put him away for six months and he’s going super now. He’s improved quite a lot since his fresh-up victory.”
The other Meadows nominees for Awapuni are Kelly Coe and Meglio Di Falcrest, who contest Open handicaps over 1550m and 1200m respectively.
Meadows said both were doing well but they are up against stronger than expected fields.
“Kelly Coe is doing well but she will probably need some rain, which doesn’t look like it’s forecast,” he said.
“Meglio Di Falcrest is having her first run this prep and she will need the race.”