The Auckland Cup has been decided to be a bridge too far for brilliant four year old DON’T STOP DREAMING and Mark and Nathan have sent him for a spell.

“He will have six weeks out and then we will start again with the spring in mind” Mark said

“Natalie said he just didn’t feel like the same horse on Friday he had been earlier and he has earned a break”

Don’t Stop Dreaming goes into winter quarters after a testing campaign from which he emerged with considerable credit.

It began in September with a fourth placing in the Kennard Bloodstock Lazarus Stakes at Addington.

The followed a win in the Flying Stakes over Jolimont and Merlin at Group One level,another defeat of Merlin in the Junior Free for All on Cup Day a third to Merlin in the Ian Dobson Memorial ;a second to Merlin in the NZ Derby ,before winning the Franklin Cup in December at Alexandra Park defeating Old Town Road and Akuta.

Three weeks later he was taking on the best in Australia and 2nd up there finished second to Australasian star Leap to Fame in the Hunter Cup.The followed two wins in Sydney before an unlucky 5th in the Miracle Mile early in March.

Three weeks later he was winning the City of Auckland FFA at Alexandra Park and two starts later going down a neck to Merlin in the Race by Grins.

It would be fair to say both four year olds started to feel the pinch of sustained competition at the highest level in the case of Don’t Stop Dreaming leaving him tantalisingly close to $1m in earnings in a 28 start career half way through his four year old season.

Under the conditions of the “old season” starting in August he would be up to 17 starts in that period. He has won just under $400,000 in 2024 alone.

“I felt the Messenger might have been the undoing of him” Mark reflected.

“He had a hard run when a softer one would have suited at that stage and while I tried freshening him up last week he didn’t feel the same.It is no use going again at that stage”

On the other hand SELF ASSURED is ticking a lot of boxes and the remarkable veteran might have something on his younger rivals by Cup night. He came home strongly again on Friday and Mark feels the best might be yet to come.

“He’s really feeling like his old self. I was pleased with his run Friday and the field has fallen away a little with the four year olds out of it”

Self Assured has been in the first three in 62 of his 73 starts and won the Auckland Cup two years ago in 3.58.9 which may well be a competive time in this field-one which perhaps reflects the testing racing regime for current older pacers.

OSCAR BONAVENA goes into the Rowe Cup with a tick for last Friday’s run too whileLOOK TO DA STARS is out for redemption in the Trotting Derby having looked a live threat last Friday before galloping in the straight.

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