(By John Jenkins)
Big Mike earned a probable trip back to Australia with a dominant all the way win in the $35,000 Dunstan Feeds 2100 at today’s Waikato meeting at Te Rapa.
The Don Eduardo six-year-old pulled off one of the richest wins by a New Zealand galloper in Australia in the last two years when he took out the $A327,000 Pakenham Cup in Victoria in December and his connections are now eyeing races like the Brisbane and Caloundra Cups at the Queensland winter carnival.
“We are going to nominate him for the Brisbane Cup,” co-trainer Craig Phelan said.
“We’ve got some unfinished business to do back in Queensland. We got our backsides kicked last time we were over there so we would love to go back and have a crack at something decent with a good horse like him.”
The Group 2 $A400,000 Brisbane Cup (2400m) will be run at Eagle Farm on June 8 while the Listed $A175,000 Caloundra Cup (2400m) is at the Sunshine Coast on June 29.
Big Mike gave his rivals a galloping lesson in today’s 2100-metre event, leading throughout for a dominant 3-1/4 length victory.
Rider Vinnie Colgan had him bowling along nicely in the early and middle stages, just a length or so in front, before applying a bit more pressure at the 600m. They had established a winning break before the home turn and the others chased in vain in the straight with Amorata the best of them, clearly getting second by 4-1/2 lengths from Gabriel.
Big Mike was having his first start since finishing last on a firm track in the Group 2 Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie on April 20, a race that Phelan said he should never have started in.
“That was our fault. We should never have lined him up on a good track like that. He’s come back to probably his favourite track at Te Rapa and got softer conditions and he’s home,” Phelan said.
Today’s win was extra special for Phelan and his son, successful jumps jockey Shaun Phelan, as it was their first training success together after entering into a partnership two months ago.