BT Junior still a Riccarton chance

Bee Tee Junior and Leith Innes overcoming a home-stretch setback to win at Ellerslie yesterday.

Bee Tee Junior and Leith Innes overcoming a home-stretch setback to win at Ellerslie yesterday.

Bee Tee Junior mightn’t have done enough at Ellerslie yesterday to seal a New Zealand Cup start, but he could still find his way south for the last day of the Riccarton carnival.

The Nom Du Jeu five-year-old is 26th in order of entry for the Gr.3 $250,000 Christchurch Casino NZ Cup on Saturday week and Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie put him to the test in yesterday’s Chevalier Produce 2400, a Rating 75 event.

“He would want to be impressive to go for the New Zealand Cup,” said Ritchie in a pre-race interview. “He’ll run the two miles (3200m).

“If he doesn’t go for the Cup, there’s also a Rating 85 2500 metres on the same day down there that could suit him.”

Bee Tee Junior did carry his supporters through to victory, but he didn’t do it as impressively as his connections hoped, though an incident halfway down the home straight didn’t help matters.

Ridden by Leith Innes, he enjoyed the trail in third or fourth position but was briefly held up rounding the home turn.

He was moved off the fence by Innes and was presented with a gap about 250 metres out, but when taking the tight opening inside Waja he was accidentally struck on the head by the whip of Waja’s rider, Lynsey Satherley.

It wasn’t until late that he gained total control and went on to win by three-quarters of a length from fellow Cambridge galloper White Diamond, who ran on strongly.

Ritchie knows what is needed to win the New Zealand Cup, having won it in 2009 with My Scotsgrey, a year before his father, Frank, saddled up Showcause to take the honours in the 3200-metre feature.

In taking his record to four wins from 17 starts, Bee Tee Junior gave the Ritchie stable a welcome change of luck yesterday after finishing fourth with Street Smart and an unlucky third with Excalibur.

Excalibur started favourite on the strength of placings behind Jon Snow then Toorak Tower in his previous two outings and did well to finish as close as he did yesterday after being held up severely in the home straight.

“Unfortunately my whip broke and we got held up at important times,” said rider Leith Innes. “It was a good run.”