By Duane Ranger
Pukekohe trainer, Steven Reid, looks set to train his first Tauranga Grass Cup winner at Gate Pa on Sunday.
The 48-year-old, who won the national training premiership in 1997-1998, thinks he has the horse to do it.
Reid has just one runner lining up at the Waikato Bay of Plenty Harness meeting – the likely favourite, Mo Casino, in the $10,000 Gartshore Group Tauranga Grass Cup for the R60 to R86 pacers.
“He’s handicapped to win and he should be winning this off the front line. The horse that beat him (Ideal Roman) by a nose in the Thames Cup has copped a 30m handicap.
“He’s trained on well since that run (January 13), but I’m not confident enough to label him because as a trainer I’ve been in this position many times before and gone under,” Reid said.
“If I were the bookmakers I’d have him say a $4.50 favourite rather than the $2-something he will probably open at,” he added.
The 5-year-old Bettor's Delight gelding has placed in all three of his grass track starts and his only race on the track last year saw him run a three-quarter length second behind the Chris Webber trained Fleeting Grin (Peter Ferguson) in the 2017 edition of the Tauranga Cup.
Both started from the 10m handicap. Reid drove him last year but this time Mo Casino will be driven by Zachary Butcher.
“Zac is a bit lighter than me and I think that will aid the horse on grass. He’s a pretty good stayer and the 3,000m stand will be ideal. Zac did all he could behind him at Thames – and just missed,” said Reid.
“I’m real happy with him. He has trained on good. Even though he’s won three races and yet to win on the grass, I think his best performances have been on that surface,” he stressed.
Mo Casino has a 20m head-start on Fleeting Grin this year.
“‘Mo’ goes his best races when following a good speed. He proved that in last year’s Jewels Final when he was last at the 400m and then beat half the field home. That would be the ideal situation for him on Saturday,” Reid said.
He said Mo Casino qualified at Alexandra Park in February 2015.
Reid also trained and sometimes drove Mo Casino’s dam Mo Cullen (Christian Cullen - On Parade). She won four races for the Pukekohe horseman between 2008 and 2011 - three at Cambridge Raceway and one at Alexandra Park.
Mo Casino is the first of her three foals. The broodmare has also left an unraced 3-year-old Bettor's Delight filly named Just Bettor, who qualified for Reid last June, but is no longer racing.
She also has a Gold Ace yearling colt called Mo Bullets, who Reid holds in high regard. Owners and breeders of all three of Mo Casino’s foals - Ron Gibbons (Mangere Bridge) and Dale Kells (Epsom) will not be lining up the latter at next month’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale.
“He’s a loving yearling and has just had his first prep. I’m quite excited about him because he goes real well for a one-year-old,” Reid said.
Recent Parawai Cup winner and favourite, Ideal Roman, will start from the 30m back-mark after winning from 20m behind at that Thames meeting.
He will be tough to beat again, despite the handicap, while the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained and driven Italian Delight could also be a tough nut to crack off the front line (1).
Fleeting Grin is also worth another chance in the eight-horse field.
Past winners of the Tauranga Grass Cup at Gate Pa have been:
2017: The Chris Webber (Raglan) trained FLEETING GRIN (Peter Ferguson).
2016: The Andrew & Lyn Neal (Cambridge) trained BEYOND THE SILENCE (Andrew Neal).
2015: The Geoff Small (Patumahoe) trained THE BUCKET LIST (Philip Butcher).
2014: The John & Joshua Dickie (Clevedon) trained KIPPENBERGER (Joshua Dickie).
2013: The Frank Cooney & Tate Hopkins Taupaki) trained LETS ELOPE (Maurice McKendry MNZM).
2012: The Ian Small (Patumahoe) trained ZENOLA STAR (Philip Butcher).
2011: The Dave & Clare McGowan (Pukekohe) trained PURE POWER (Nicole Molander).
2010: Race abandoned.
2009: The Kevin Smith (Takanini) trained GREG BRYDON (Matthew White).
2008: The Geoff Small (Patumahoe) trained ZENAD (David Butcher).
2007: The Gareth Dixon (Ardmore) trained TUFFERY (Peter Ferguson).
2006: The Derek Balle (Pukekohe) trained JAG STAR (Gene Robb).