Wheeler itching for NZ cup scratching
John Wheeler is not counting on either of his two acceptors getting a start in the 2012 New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton tomorrow.
The New Plymouth trainer paid up for I Gotta Feeling and Gold Cape for the Canterbury Jockey Club's group II feature race, but both horses have ended up as emergencies.
I Gotta Feeling requires one scratching to enter the final field, while Gold Cape needs three.
''I Gotta Feeling has got a rough show, but the other one has no chance. I can't see there being more than one scratching, if any,'' Wheeler said yesterday afternoon.
He said it ''wasn't a big deal really'' because both horses were guaranteed a start in the rating 85 2500m, one of the supporting races on the cup day card.
If there was rain - and the forecast is for fine weather - to ease track conditions, Wheeler said I Gotta A Feeling would be a genuine cup contender.
''She's right on top of her game at the moment and would be a huge chance if we got some rain.''
I Gotta Feeling raced on the second day of the cup carnival at Riccarton on Wednesday, finishing fourth.
''I was happy with how she went with a view to her racing in the cup,'' said. ''I didn't want her to have a hard race and she sat parked from a wide draw so did a good job to finish fourth,'' Wheeler said.
Gold Cape was scratched from the same race as I Gotta Feeling contested on Wednesday, but there is nothing amiss with the mare, according to her trainer.
''I just didn't want to run her twice in the week on a hard track, but she's pretty well at the moment and should run well regardless what race she lines up in.''
Waikato apprentice Rory Hutchings will ride I Gotta Feeling in the cup, while Gold Cape is still without a rider in the cup, but Mark Du Plessis has taken the mount in the rating 85 event, with Matt Cameron listed for I Gotta Feeling in the same race.
Wheeler has trained the winners of two New Zealand Cups this century - longshot Waltermitty successful in 2004 and Pentathon two years later.
Wheeler has two other runners at Riccarton tomorrow.
Double Image will back up after finishing a highly creditable fifth of 15 runners in the Group II Coupland's Mile (1600m) at her first crack at the big time.
Wheeler confirmed Double Image would back up in the rating 85 1800m race tomorrow.
''She went huge in the Couplands and has pulled up well so she'll go round again on Saturday,'' he said.
Wheeler's other runner, End Of The Line, has made the final field off the ballot and will contest the Rating 65 2000m - race two on the programme.
End of the Line failed to fire when starting one of the favourites in the rating 65 2500m race on Wednesday and finished eighth of 16 starters.
''She was a bit disappointing and couldn't go with the early speed,'' her trainer said.
''The track was too good for her, so rain would help her on Saturday.''
The Wheeler-trained Jetset Lad finished a close sixth in the Group III Stewards Handicap (1200m) on Wednesday and has come through his bold first-up run back from a layoff in good order.
Wheeler confirmed the horse would now be aimed at the the wfa Group I $200,000 Westbury Stud Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on December 8.
''He's up in the weights and will probably stick to weight-for-age racing from now on,'' he said.
Taranaki Daily News