There was a total of 45 hopefuls all wanting a spot in November's NZ Cup when nominations closed last Tuesday, and on Friday one of them had guaranteed himself a place in the $1 million thriller. His name is Bondy, and he booked his spot after producing a punishing finish to win the $25,000 Avon City Ford New Brighton Cup at Addington.
The lure of the listed event is not so much the $13,630 winner's cheque, it's the assurance that whoever takes it out will make the Cup field regardless. So once again it drew a classy line-up, but Bondy pretty much gave them all a start and a beating.
After settling back from his wide draw on the front line, the son of Live Or Die trucked around the field to sit parked and straight away got cover from Mr Feelgood starting the last lap. Within a furlong he was three-back on the outer, and despite the pace quickening appreciably down the back straight as you would expect, co-trainer/driver David Butt was able to leave his mounting run until the home turn when the horses fanned around the bend. Momentarily left flat-footed, the strapping pacer balanced on straightening and threw himself into the fight, powering home to get the nod in a nose/nose/half-length finish over Bettor's Strike, Nearea Franco and Mr Feelgood.
For starters it proved in no uncertain terms that Bondy is not just a 'one trick pony', a tag which some might have wanted to pin on him because he has won a lot of his races from the front; his other two appearances this season being no exception. And secondly, it really changed nothing in the overall picture of those jostling for NZ Cup positions - Bondy probably would have made the field anyway, because prior to winning on Friday night he had put together a formline of 11211 since June. So his win just made it that little bit harder for the other 44 horses fighting for the 14 remaining spots.
This year's nominations must have Addington officials licking their lips in anticipation ... equine superstar Auckland Reactor, reigning Inter-Dominion champion Mr Feelgood, defending Cup winner Changeover - not to mention a staggering six expressions of interest from across the Tasman, including three-time Inter-Dominion hero Blacks A Fake and other Australian topliners like Karloo Mick, Smoken Up, Be Good Johnny and Lombo Pocket Watch. If most of the Aussies make the trip it will be like an Inter-Dominion Grand Final; in fact, you have only got to look at the sort of horses who end up missing out to see how good the field really is. Bondy will be right there amongst the action on November 10, and a typically reserved David Butt says the 8-year-old is not without a chance. "He's going to be competitive with the right run," Butt said. "His manners will put him in the race for starters."
Bondy's had one go at the Cup before, two years ago, running sixth behind Flashing Red. "But that was when he'd only just gotten to Cup class after winning the Kaikoura Cup," Butt said, adding that the enforced layoff Bondy had to have between March last year and May this year after cracking a bone in his back foot could have been a blessing in a way. He has taken a long time to fill out into his big frame," he said.
The plan for Bondy from here on in is a busy one, as his trainers intend to line the gelding up in most of the lead-up races - starting with the Hannon Memorial this Sunday, and then the Ashburton Flying Stakes or Kaikoura Cup.
Credit: John Robinson writing in HR Weekly 23 Sept 2009