Elusive Hometown Cup in Walker's sights

Date: 21 Jul 2022

Elusive Hometown Cup in Walker's sights


NZ Racing News reports:

Mark Walker has lived most of his last 35 years between Waikato and Singapore but talented mare Aromatic gives the star trainer a golden chance of winning his old hometown Cup.

A five-time New Zealand champion trainer with Te Akau Racing, Walker grew up in coastal Taranaki and attended Opunake High School before heading to Waikato in pursuit of a career in racing.

He has gone close to winning the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) before, producing Zamfir to finish second to Kenadaad in the 2007 race at New Plymouth.

A winner of three of her 14 starts and second in a further eight, including a last-start runner-up finish in the Listed Rangitikei Cup (1600m) at Trentham in May, Aromatic will carry 53kg in Saturday's Powerworx-sponsored feature at New Plymouth Raceway.

"It would be nice to win an Opunake Cup. That's my old home town," Walker said.

"Because this is a Listed race and she's at a good place in the handicap, we just want to try and get a stakes win before she gets up in the weights.

"She's stakes placed from Wellington. She ran really well that day but it was a pretty hard run and we gave her a pretty easy time of it afterwards, just on the water treadmill."

Stable apprentice Joe Kamaruddin takes the ride on the Sacred Falls five-year-old mare, who is a $9 fourth favourite in the TAB's final field market, which is headed by the Allan Sharrock stablemates Darci La Bella at $2.70 and Justaskme at $7.50, with the Pam Gerard and Michael Moroney-trained Cork at $8 despite being the third ballot.

"It's come up stronger than normal but they can't win it sitting in their box," Walker said, expressing a hint of doubt about how Aromatic would handle a really heavy track.

"It just depends how they get through the ground this time of year. We haven't had many runners of late. We just don't tend to have that many heavy trackers. We've just got to see how she gets through the ground.

"We'll have a crack then give her a freshen up for races like the Matamata Cup in the spring. But she always gives her best, that's for sure."



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