Cambridge chasing further Easter success

Allez Eagle cruising home for Mark Du Plessis at Te Aroha . (Photo: Trish Dunell).

Allez Eagle cruising home for Mark Du Plessis at Te Aroha. (Photo: Trish Dunell).


Cambridge is attacking the Gr. 1 $200,000 Manco Easter Handicap at Ellerslie on Saturday with quality and not quantity.

The Cambridge centre has four acceptors, including the balloted Miss Foxwood, in the Easter and the form of those representatives suggest a further Group One win could fall to the centre.

Addictive Habit is the highest-rated of the Cambridge hopes and gives Lee Somervell a strong chance of recording his second Group One win, following on from the Sistema Railway Stakes win of Fleur de Lune two years ago.

Tony Pike is staging a two-pronged attack on the feature with Allez Eagle and Chintz, the horses who finished either side of Addictive Habit when the three did their Easter Handicap dress rehearsals at Te Aroha earlier this month.

And you can’t discount Miss Foxwood if she gets the required number of scratchings to sneak into the field. She has been a model of consistency this season and was a solid third at Awapuni last start in the Listed Fairdale/Goodwood Studs Flying Handicap when chasing home Vespa, one of the leading Easter candidates.

Sure Cambridge doesn’t have strength in numbers in Saturday’s Manco Easter Handicap, but the representatives do have the class to maintain the region’s good strike rate in the race.

Since the Alan Jones-trained Pomp And Glory won the 2004 Easter Handicap, the race has fallen to Cambridge horses a further four times in the last 10 years. The Ralph Manning-trained Rags To Riches won in 2006, Bernard Dyke’s Floydeboy was successful in 2007 then Linda Laing’s Veyron picked up a memorable double.

Allez Eagle is the most favoured of the Cambridge runners on the TAB’s Fixed Odds market at $8, ahead of Addictive Habit ($10), Chintz ($14) and Miss Foxwood ($16). And that’s no surprise on the strength of his record-breaking Te Aroha win over 1400 metres.

Allez Eagle took his record to seven wins from 13 starts with his two and a half-length victory and Pike says he has trained on well.

“He’s just flying,” said Pike. “He prefers the cut in the ground and as long as it doesn’t get heavy I’m confident he’s a big chance. It’s his first go at the 1600, but the way he ran out the 1400 at Te Aroha I don’t think he’ll have a problem.”

Leith Innes will be reunited with Allez Eagle, having not been on his back on raceday since his first two starts, which resulted in a debut win at Te Rapa and injury in the Gr. 3 James & Annie Sarten Memorial.

Provided Allez Eagle performs well on Saturday he will be on a plane to Queensland with a selection of sprint races on offer.

Chintz has a score to settle in the Easter after finishing a half-head second to Albany Reunion last year and her Te Aroha performance suggests she is on the right track.

“She will strip an even fitter horse on Saturday,” said Pike. “She just peaked on her run at Te Aroha.”

Vinnie Colgan will be doing his best to get as close as possible to Chintz’s handicap of 52kg and Pike says the mare’s connections are pleased to put him on 0.75kg overweight.

Chintz has had two starts since rejoining the Pike stable and, provided she shapes up on Saturday, she will back up in the Gr. 2 Travis Stakes at Te Rapa next weekend.

Like Allez Eagle, Addictive Habit is Brisbane-bound if he pleases in the Easter. His Queensland mission is the Gr. 1 Doomben Cup.

“He’s due to fly over on the third (May) and this race should top him off nicely for the trip,” said Somervell. “He worked very well on Tuesday morning.”

Also bound for Queensland is the Pike-trained Huka Eagle, who will do an exhibition gallop with El Roca between races at Ellerslie on Saturday.

“He’ll run in the Gold Coast Guineas and after that there’s plenty of three-year-old races for him,” said Pike.