Guns At Five firing up for NZ Cup tilt

Cambridge trainer Chris Wood has never doubted the ability of Guns At Five, but the under-rated stayer caught him by surprise at Rotorua today.

Wood shared the feelings of punters who let Guns At Five start at odds of better than 21/1 in the Listed Agrodome Rotorua Plate (1950m) and he was amazed when the six-year-old raced clear early in the run home then held on strongly to win by two and a half lengths.

“He got under my guard,” said Wood. “My apprentice Viktoria Gatu got off him after riding him in work and was happy with him, but I felt he was a run short.

“He’d been to Whangarei and missed a start when the meeting was cancelled and he went down to Hastings and they wiped the last race that he was in.

“He’s always been a good horse, but I’d only been able to give him the one run, at Taupo (on October 9) over 1400 metres. I was sure he was going to need this.”

Wood warned rider Trudy Thornton that Guns At Five may be found wanted over the final stages, being second-up, and to try and get him off the fence and give him as economical a run as possible.

Guns At Five jumped from barrier two and settled just off the pace and Thornton managed to work him off the fence to be sixth with 1200 metres to run. “He was travelling huge at the 1000 metres and he got to them easily on the turn,” said Thornton.

Guns At Five then put a break on his rivals and it was left to Smartly and the favourite Soriano to chase in vain over the final stages.

The win was the eighth for Guns At Five and signaled he is on track for his main mission, the Gr. 3 $22,5000 Christchurch Casino NZ Cup (3200m) at Riccarton on November 16.

“He’ll have one or maybe two more runs before the New Zealand Cup,” said Wood. “He needs it to go two miles (3200m).”

Thornton had her first ride on Guns At Five and is, obviously, keen to retain the mount. “I knew what a good horse he is and he did it so easily today.”