Illuminati on Winter Cup trail again

Illuminati (Viktoria Gatu) repeating her Ruakaka win of 12 months ago when beating Rocknroller yesterday.

Illuminati (Viktoria Gatu) repeating her Ruakaka win of 12 months ago when beating Rocknroller yesterday.

Twelve months ago Foote travelled south with Illuminati to tackle the eStar Winter Cup (1600m) off the back of a Ruakaka open handicap victory only to bow to southerner Timy Tyler in a desperate finish in the Group Three feature.

A year on, the Cambridge trainer is looking forward to going one better at Riccarton after the Keeper mare replicated her Ruakaka win.

“She really appreciated the decent footing this time. She never fired a shot in her last two runs on the deep stuff,” said Foote. “After her last run at Tauranga, where she nearly tailed off, I did start to wonder if she wanted to be a racehorse as her work on the wet tracks leading into the race had also been fairly average.

“I galloped her on a semi-decent track just to see if that might help and it was as if she was a different horse. I know she has won three on heavy tracks but she really does want it with just a little cut in it these days.”

Foote admitted to a degree of confidence yesterday due to several factors, including the Dead6 rated Ruakaka surface.

“She has a super record at Ruakaka, where she had won twice before, plus we had Viktoria Gatu on with a nice two kilogram claim,” he said.

“Viktoria had won on her four times, including the race last year, so she knows her well and the mare seems to run for her. It was a lovely ride again on Saturday and we got the result.”

Gatu settled Illuminati in fourth position three-wide and improved her to be within striking range turning for home. She got the upper hand halfway down the home straight and held on strongly to beat the local Rocknroller.

Gatu was thrilled with the win and hopes her record of five wins on Illuminati will give her a chance to retain the mount in the Winter Cup.

“I’m been lucky to be on her and with five wins now I hope I can ride her in the Winter Cup,” said Gatu.

While delighted with the victory, Foote does have some trepidation as to the handicapper’s reaction to the victory.

“She isn’t a very big mare and she already has 55.5kgs for the Winter Cup,” he noted.

“I’m hoping for just half a kilo penalty but it’s likely to be more than that which will make her task harder. We will make the trip though and if she can get a decent enough track I’m hoping she can go one better this time.”

The 119th running of the EStar sponsored Winter Cup will be run at Riccarton on August 6.

NZ Racing Desk