Black connection to Cup favourite
ALL BLACKS coach Steve Hansen his hoping his team has a win against the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday night but he's also hoping for a win in the Carlton MID Coffs Harbour Gold Cup.
Hansen is a part owner of pre-race favourite Elusive Catch.
If Hansen thinks he's got a team on the rugby field at his disposal, it's got nothing on the team of Coffs Harbour Gold Cup specialists he's got for this afternoon's big race.
Trainer Liam Birchley is aiming for his third Coffs Harbour Gold Cup in four years after winning in 2012 and 2013 with Pepperwood.
Jockey Robert Thompson has ridden more winners than any other hoop in Australian history including a couple of Coffs Harbour Gold Cups himself, including last year's win on Southern Shimmer.
Thompson has been the regular rider of the Ross Stitt-trained mare and Thursday's rival Shazza's Bubbles, who is chasing a hat trick of wins after taking the Mothers Gift at Grafton and Sawtell Cup at Coffs Harbour.
"I rang Robert before acceptances and asked if he could ride my mare," Birchley explained.
"I wasn't sure if he was committed to Shazza's Bubbles.
"Anyway, Robert Rang back and said he'd ride Elusive Catch. I was a bit surprised but it's a good sign he wanted to ride my mare.
"I'm certainly not complaining."
Elusive Catch is a medium sized four-year-old mare who has won four of 15 starts and did her early racing in New Zealand. Birchley has had the daughter of American stallion Elusive City for five starts.
According to the Queensland conditioner, Elusive Catch is a mare that needs soft tracks to perform at her optimum.
"She just doesn't handle firm tracks," Birchley added.
"It limits my options with her.
"And she's a horse that likes to get back and run on. Hopefully that will be the trend at Coffs Harbour.
"She's in good form. She should have finished third at Rosehill last start when she didn't have the best of luck.
"I've been happy with her work since, she's done good.
"Provided they're running on she's in it up to her ears."
Elusive Catch was a last start 2.6 lengths fourth to Alegria over 1500m at Rosehill on July 18. Prior to that she finished a close third at the Sunshine Coast on July 4 and won over 1400m at the Gold Coast on June 20.
While yet to win over 1600m, BIrchley said "that won't be a problem."
Birchley will also saddle up Hard Ticker in the big race with Chris Whitley taking the ride. The Hard Spun gelding finished unplaced in last year's Coffs Harbour Gold Cup.