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2010 EASTER CUP: Won by Sleepy Tripp


Those who backed the winner of last year's NZ Derby would have probably cleaned up again in the Easter Cup on Saturday night. Because the same horse won both.

Sleepy Tripp emerged as a genuine open class force when he took out this year's $80,000 Stallion Station-sponsored Group 1, overcoming a lengthy enough early gallop to sprint past the more favoured trio of Baileys Dream, Bettor's Strike and Second Wind late in the piece.

It was a rare Easter time double and one achieved as quickly as possible by the son of Courage Under Fire, coming just 12 months since he was on top of the 3-year-old tree after his Derby victory, but it signalled that Sleepy Tripp has now furnished into the horse he promised to be all along.

Co-trainer/driver Mark Purdon didn't think it would be him doing the saluting at the end of the 3200m feature though. "I thought he'd blown it," Purdon said, referring to Sleepy Tripp's uncharacteristic early mistake. "Especially since he was so far from them once he settled. I know Bettor's Strike and Baileys Dream were still behind us when we got going, but we were giving the early leaders a fair start. And we were lucky the way the race panned out after that, getting the one-one behind Bettor's Strike for the last lap and a bit when Bailey crossed to the front."

By his own high standards, Sleepy Tripp had been slightly below his best in the weeks leading up to his first real test in the 'big time'. "His form had slipped," admitted Purdon, citing the race at Cambridge in January where he was beaten into fifth behind Tintin In America as being a point where the head-scratching began. I knew what my expectations of him were, and he wasn't living up to them. The night he ran second to Crystal Star at Forbury, Blair (Orange) said he probably should have won. But he must've picked up a bit of a bug in Auckland, and we've treated him three times since he returned home. Bill (Bishop) is very, very accurate in the blood tests he does, and there was just something lingering in the background. So we just did what we could, and I knew that in time his own system would fix whatever was troubling him. Prior to Invercargill was the first time there were signs his blood was coming right, and this week I could just tell by the way he was in the coat and eye that he was near his best again."

Raced by his Pleasant Point breeders Terry and Adrienne Taylor, Sleepy Tripp has now won 11 of his 25 starts and last Saturday night's victory tipped him over $520,000 in stakes. Three of those victories have been at Group level, with two 1's and a 2 in the cabinet so far, and Sleepy Tripp will give the couple every chance of adding to that when he heads north again shortly for the Taylor Mile and Messenger double-header followed by the Harness Jewels. "He's a lot stronger to sit behind now," said Purdon, comparing Sleepy Tripp this term to what he was like at three. And I'm really looking forward to next season with him, especially since the Inter-Dominions are here too."

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 8Apr10

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