Ignore form line, Single Minded looks ready for a big effort
Don't be fooled by the form line of New Zealand Cup aspirant Single Minded today at Riccarton.
A quick glance at the last six starts by the Graham Richardson-trained runner would leave few feeling inspired.
But upon closer inspection it could be some of the best form available heading into the 3200-metre Group III feature.
Ruling a line through a last-start failure at Moonee Valley, the best guide to a forward showing today from the Bachelor Duke five-year-old came the start before when he finished fifth in the Bart Cummings Stakes at Flemington.
"That was a very good run I thought," Richardson said.
"He finished the race off really well, I'm not really sure what happened at his next start though. We had the vet to him after the race and he couldn't pinpoint anything so it was a bit of a head-scratcher."
Upon his return to New Zealand, Richardson has made use of a chiropractor to aid the recovery of Single Minded since the mystery failure in Australia and said yesterday he couldn't be happier with the horse leading into today's race.
The horse flew down on Thursday and has settled into the surroundings at Shane Kennedy's property very well.
"He's a bit of an old hand at the travelling caper, not much worries him. But he has settled in well and he seems very well which is a very encouraging sign."
Craig Grylls will resume his association with Single Minded in today's $225,000 event. Grylls has been aboard for almost all of the New Zealand career of the gelding which Richardson believes is a big bonus.
Rated a $12 chance with TAB bookmakers, Single Minded is just one of a plethora of chances in the cup this afternoon.
"It's a very open field. Having Spiro in there gives the rest of us some nice relief at the weights which is an assist. But anyone could win the race. We are in with a big show, at least I'm hopeful of it.
"The two miles is always a concern, it's the tough distance. He raced over it in the Auckland Cup, but he was over the top then so you can probably ignore it."
Also in favour of Single Minded is the five barrier draw which should allow Grylls to settle into a handy position early in the race.
What happens from there may depend on how David Walsh intends to attack the race with likely leader Kullu.
The Mandy and Matt Brown-trained runner was brilliant when winning the Metropolitan Trophy last weekend on the course.
Walsh threw caution to the wind then and had his charge out in front by 15-20 lengths at one stage during the race before holding on bravely to win by eight lengths.
Whether those similar tactics will work over the ultimate distance remains to be seen.
Those in behind Kullu last week to catch the eye were placegetters Dancing Embers and Miss Isle, who both rushed home from well back.