Blaster may be surprise package
They might say they are just a couple of Australians who are here to enjoy the experience of Cup Day but Andy and Kate Gath have a serious chance of heading home with the day's major prize in their suitcase.
The Victorian couple arrived in Christchurch late last week with their star pacer Caribbean Blaster and will head into tomorrow's New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington as the unknown aspect of the $600,000 feature.
With the exception of former Australian Sushi Sushi, Caribbean Blaster has no form against any of the horses he meets tomorrow. Also, no-one can quite pinpoint just how strong his Australian form is.
Most New Zealand form analysts will tell you there is no chance they can win tomorrow but Gath's reply to that is simple.
"Maybe he can't but we are definitely going to find out," he said.
"We think he is more than a runner's chance, his form back home might not stack up to people's expectations here in New Zealand but that means very little.
"What's to say that our horses back home aren't as good as the ones you have here.
"I understand he is going to have to produce something pretty special to beat the likes of Terror To Love but I don't for a minute think that he can't do it."
Known around the stables as Huey, Caribbean Blaster and the Gath duo arrived at the West Melton stables of Cran and Chrissie Dalgety on Thursday and have settled in well.
Andy Gath is no stranger to campaigning good horses in New Zealand and was here in 2002 with his freakish trotter La Coocoracha who smashed the New Zealand horses when winning the illustrious Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park in Auckland.
This time it's different though.
The New Zealand Cup is a race they have watched and attended, always with the dream of having a horse in it.
"I think I've been to about six New Zealand Cups, the first was Kym's Girl, I remember it because I was interviewed and asked who I thought could win and I said her," Andy Gath said.
"It's a dream to have a horse in the race, but we are just as excited about being a part of the whole day, we have nothing like this over in Australia. To get so many people to one harness racing meeting is quite an achievement and it's really exciting to be involved."
While there is a fair amount of pressure as trainer, the driving responsibilities also come with hefty expectations and that role will belong to Kate Gath tomorrow.
She has driven him in every one of his 53 career starts to date, but this will be their biggest challenge.
"He's a lovely horse to drive so there are no problems there," she said.
"It might look like he races pretty keen but that's not the case, we just try and keep him up on the bit."
The pair will start from barrier one tomorrow, a draw which Andy Gath doesn't think will pose too many concerns.
"If you had asked me before the draw came out I would have said that one was the draw we wanted," he said.
"There are plenty of possibilities for us from there . . . And although a lot of his racing back home has been done from in front he can be just as effective coming off the back of another horse . . ."
Should our netball team, The Tactix, have hired a foreign coach?Related story: Noeline Taurua slams influx of foreign coaches