From the Commentary Box – Monday, 14th September 2015

The Shaune Ritchie trained Chop Chop bounced back to her best form when winning at Ruakaka on Saturday

In stark contrast to the avalanche of winners from the Cambridge centre in recent weeks, Chop Chop was the sole Cambridge winner on the day. A five year old mare by Windsor Park stallion Guillotine, Chop Chop had struggled to find form after finishing fourth in the NZ Oaks at Trentham. “We took her to Brisbane after her NZ Oaks effort and she failed to fire over there” said Ritchie. A long spell to freshen up was an integral part in getting Chop Chop back to her best form. “Sometimes mares can have an off season after their three year old year and because she’d shown so much promise we decided to flick her out and give her a decent break” said Ritchie.

Chop Chop was having her third start after a spell and a second placing two starts ago suggested she was back to her best form. With Danielle Johnson aboard, Chop Chop overcame runner up Martiniz Special by a length with the hot favourite El Pescado in third spot. “We got a lovely run in behind the leaders and I was confident until the 600m when she was left a little flat footed when the leaders took off” said Johnson.

Chop Chop knuckled down to her task though over the concluding stages to register her fourth win from 18 starts. Ritchie will look towards some of the bigger staying races over the next few months with Chop Chop. “I think she’ll go further especially over ground and races like the Waikato and Avondale Cups could be up her alley” said Ritchie.

Although Chop Chop was the only Cambridge winner on the day, there were a couple of other noteworthy runs from Cambridge gallopers. The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young trained two year old Caorunn was expected to give a sight in the Two Year Old dash over 880m. The modicum of some inspired support after a recent trial win at Te Teko, Caorunn was sent out equal favourite with Tennessee, a Per Incanto filly from the Stephen McKee
stable at Ardmore.

McKee recently formed a new training partnership with long time employee Eddie Chippendale, and the pair enjoyed their first training success when Tennessee fought back valiantly to beat Caorunn.

The two staged a great battle, quickly clearing out from their rivals to fight out the finish. Caorunn, by Showcasing, looked likely when forging ahead with 150m to go but Sam Spratt on Tennessee had other ideas. “My filly is very promising and she showed a lot of heart to fight back when headed” said Spratt.
Both horses show a lot of natural ability.

The other minor placing for the locals came in the feature race of the day, the Tavistock Northland Breeders Stakes. A quality field of three year olds saw The Justice League come out on top in a competitive race from Selfie and Rocanto.

The Stephen Marsh trained Rocanto looked a trifle unlucky when copping a bump from Selfie with 200m to run. Rocanto’s connections lodged a protest against Selfie but after an enquiry the placings stood. “Things got a bit tight there and I thought it affected our chances” said Marsh afterwards. Although disappointed with the outcome of the enquiry, Marsh was delighted with the run of Rocanto. “He will improve with that run and I still think he’s better suited going the left handed way” said Marsh. Rocanto will head towards the Hawkes Bay Guineas before heading to the Two Thousand Guineas.

Finally, I thought Mongolian Khan’s fresh up effort at Flemington last Saturday was huge. Pitted against a quality field of Group One performers in the Makybe Diva Stakes, Mongolian Khan did everything expected of him, finishing two lengths off the winner Fawkner in seventh spot. Last season’s NZ Horse of the Year looks spot on for his tilt at the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double. The 1600m of last Saturday’s race was too short for him but he’ll come into his own over the longer trips.

I’ll catch you next week.