Tough task in bid for hat trick

Starpin will face a tough task in her first step up to stakes company at Ellerslie next Monday.

The Cambridge mare has drawn wide at barrier 15 in the Listed Hallmark Stud Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and will certainly need luck in the running to continue on her winning way.

Starpin has won four of her 12 starts and two of those wins have come in her latest appearances, efforts which have persuaded her trainer Paul Duncan to have a crack at the Newmarket. She was successful over 1200 metres in a Rating 75 event at Te Aroha last month then produced a game effort to score over the same trip in the same class at Trentham on December 3.

The strength of that latest win was boosted when Galaxy Star, who was a neck runner-up to Starpin at Trentham, came out and scored a solid win last weekend at Awapuni.

Faith in Starpin’s chances on Monday can be assessed by the fact Matt Cameron has agreed to waste to ride the daughter of Pins at 53kg, the minimum weight in the event.

It will be a big test for Starpin and Duncan says she is ready for the contest, though obviously the wide draw is now a concern. “She’s a straight-out 1200-metre horse and she did win well last time,” said Duncan. “It was a tough effort because she was knocked around coming over the crossing.”

Starpin is raced by her breeders, John Best and Bruce Lumsden, who sold a half-brother by Any Suggestion to the mare at last month’s Ready To Run sale for $30,000 to John Warren Racing of Victoria.

Starpin’s achievements as a sprinter are quite surprising considering she is a half-sister to Starmon, who was successful as a stayer from the Duncan stable before heading to Melbourne where she won the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2100m). This is also the family of Zabene, winner of this year’s NZ Cup Trial and Listed CJC Metropolitan Trophy.

However, when it comes to class Starpin’s family has it in abundance going back through the generations. She is from the family of Octagonal etc and sprint members include Commands and the Concorde Stakes winner Taimana.

Cambridge is also represented in the Newmarket Handicap by Aspinal, who is prepared by Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue. Aspinal has fared far better than Starpin in the barrier draws at eight and she will be ridden by Leith Innes.

Aspinal recorded four wins from the stable before being tried in Australia this year. She resumed locally in the Group II The Aussie Butcher Concorde Handicap at Ellerslie on December 3 and ran an eyecatching race for fifth, less than a length from the winner, Durham Town.