Alta Leonie takes out Stratford Cup

Kyle Marshall and Alta Leonie on their way to winning the Stratford Cup - Royden Williams, Harness Racing Photography
Kyle Marshall and Alta Leonie on their way to winning the Stratford Cup

Royden Williams, Harness Racing Photography

The Kyle Marshall-trained Alta Leonie recorded her second Country Cups win of the season on Saturday when victorious in the Stratford Cup (2600m).

Driven by her trainer, Alta Leonie was settled to the rear of the field after pacing away well from her 30m back mark. 

Marshall looped the field down the back straight to sit outside pacemaker Red Magic before taking control of the race down the home straight, holding on to win by three-quarters of a length over Forever Pearl, with a further neck back to Bill Haley in third.

“It was a good run,” Marshall said. “We went around the field while we were going downhill.

“I knew Bill Haley was there and he was probably the one to beat. It’s hard to make ground on that track, so I thought I would get handy going downhill.

“It was a long way up the straight and she was too tough for them.”

Alta Leonie went into the race off the back of placing in the Taranaki Cup (1750m) at New Plymouth two days prior, but Kyle was confident of his mare’s chances heading into Saturday.

“She just had to do too much work early (in the Taranaki Cup) and just got beaten for speed by horses that did no work,” Marshall said.

“We were still confident heading into Stratford, the 30m handicap didn’t worry us. She is racing well and every start she puts in 110 percent.”

The win adds to her Otaki Cup (3000m) victory last month and the Big Jim five-year-old now sits clear at the top of the North Island Country Cups table with 58 points, nine clear of Comic Book Hero.

Marshall said Alta Leonie will continue on a Country Cups path with the aim of winning the $6,000 bonus.

“We’ll just try and keep ahead on the points,” Marshall said. “So we will go to the Palmerstonian (March 14) and then the Hawera Cup (April 22).”

Meanwhile, Marshall will line-up just the one runner at his home meeting at Cambridge Raceway on Wednesday.

Six-year-old mare Lukyanova will contest the Mish’s Delish Graze Handicap Trot in the colours of part-owner Bryce Espin, who races her with local horseman Luk Chin, and Marshall is confident she can break through for her maiden win.

The daughter of Pegasus Spur has only had the two previous starts, finishing fourth at Cambridge on debut before placing at Alexandra Park last month, and Marshall said she has been a tonic for Espin.

“She’s racing well,” Marshall said. “She’s a much better horse going the Auckland way, but in saying that, if she gets around safely like she did her first start, she’s going to be quite hard to beat.

“Bryce is in a home at the moment. It’s good to keep her racing while Bryce isn’t 100 percent. He still makes it to the races, so it’s good to keep him interested and she races in his colours.

“Last start at Auckland, after the race he said it gave him ten years of his life back, so that meant quite a lot.” – Cambridge Raceway


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