By Michael Guerin – Republished from Harness Racing NZ

Superstar three-year-old Akuta will be nominated for the New Zealand Cup but trainer Mark Purdon warns he could be in Australia by the time the great race is run.

Akuta has been heavily backed with the New Zealand TAB, shortening from $15 to $7 second favouritism for the Cup at Addington on November 10.

Purdon confirms the Northern Derby and Jewels winner will be in the initial nominations for the Cup but a start in the 3200m thriller is anything but guaranteed.

“Coming back on the rating he will I don’t think we will be able to find other races for him so if he wants to race in the spring it will have to be in the good races,” says Purdon.

“So that will give us a chance to assess where he stands against the likes of Self Assured and Spankem.

“If he comes out and beats them in the lead-up races then a Cup bid could be on so we might as well nominate him for it and let us tell us where he sits.

“He is a good horse and maybe he will measure up to the other two and being nominated will give us options.

“But if it looks like he is not ready to beat them, then we can change our plans.”

Purdon says that change would more than likely include a first trip to Australia for the Breeders Crown, which starts in November and culminates in the A$200,000 three-year-old pacing final on November 19, nine days after the Cup at Addington.

“There are options like the junior free-for-all at home but I am thinking if he doesn’t come up as a NZ Cup horse, which is very much his second plan, he could head to Victoria.

“I’d be keen on tackling the Breeders Crown with him then bringing him back here for the Derby (Addington in December).”

Purdon says with Covid travel restrictions seemingly in the past he is keen to re-target series like the Breeders Crown and if Akuta goes he will likely be joined by one of the stable’s two-year-olds, although which one would depend on their progress in coming months.

Akuta is set to start hoppled work again next week alongside fellow group 1 winner Franco Indie, who could also be nominated for the New Zealand Cup but that path is far less likely for him.

The stable’s two open class big guns Self Assured and Spankem are both still in the north at the back end of a month of pre-training on the water walkers in Waikato before they return home to be aimed at the Cup.

Purdon says no decision on whether either will head to Victoria for the Inter Dominion will be made until after Cup week.

“There is no point making a decision on that because they could come out during Cup week and their form not warrant it.

“So we will not put too much thought into that until we have to and we have two weeks after the Cup to do that.”

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