Many bemoan the fact that open class racing is not what it was in its heyday when horses re-appeared year after year to try and achieve a major Cup race.

SELF ASSURED is not part of that conversation. If he were to win the Auckland Cup tonight it will have been five years since he won his first one. None of the iron horses we rated champions in past eras can get close to that.

Of the 12 dual winners eight  won in successive years. The exceptions were the first dual winner (Gold Jacket) ; the legendary Cardigan Bay (1961 and 1963) and the Australian Themighty Quinn (2011-2013) which were in fact successive appearances in the race. Luxury Liner,Chokin,Elsu,Captain Sandy,Soangetaha, Gold Jacket and Man O War-all famous horses in their own time-won them back to back and the ones that tried for a third Cup,in some cases multiple times but none ould produce a treble.

Self Assured has the best chance in that he is meeting one of the weakest fields in the history of the race. But it will still be exciting because,not surprisingly, “Jimmy” is not quite the horse he was.

Mark has been adamant through the summer and autumn campaign that four year olds Don’t Stop Dreaming and Merlin “are just a bit too good for him now all things being even”. Oddly that could have worked in Jimmy’s favour in 2024

With the young guns dominating the betting and pre-race comment Self Assured has been out of the limelight, bowling along the in the field in his inimitable way and waiting in the wings for strong late surges to get the best of the rest. Now the young guns have shot their bolt and like the Grand Sentinel that he is the veteran is ready to turn the sunset into the bright lights.

What a deserving case. From his first race,a winning one in May 2019, Self Assured was not out of the first three until September 2020 when he made a rare starting error in the New Brighton Cup. From there he was not further back than third again until the Kaikoura Cup two years later-remembering his immense impression at the Queensland winter carnival making a clean sweep of the three year old features,fighting off Australian star Lochinvar Art twice during the Queensland Derby to win easily.

“I had to re-assess him after that race” Mark later said “I had him as a very smart three year old but not quite up with the best around. He proved to me I had underrated his ability”

He got another reminder as Akuta was heading for victory in the New Zealand Free for All last November. Self Assured had admittedly been off his game to the extent that he bypassed the New Zealand Cup. Tony Herlihy took the drive,unusual on a Purdon-trained horse in a Cup feature.

To the surprise of many, Self Assured took out his resentment with a storming run down the outside to down the hot favourite Akuta.

It may pay to remember tonight that Jimmy is always keen to have the last say

Tough ? The tough open race programme this autumn has found out the younger stars perhaps because they also had hard racing in Australia.

In 2022 Self Assured had 10 starts in a northern autumn campaign between January 21 and May 27 when he was second in the Auckland Cup.He won seven  of them including the Race by Grins.

The Auckland Cup is naturally a big occasion for the Purdon family.All Stars and Purdon Racing have won the last 7 Cups after all and the family have won 16 in all. With the small field tactics will count but not as much as in a big one.The way Self Assured got home in the Roy Purdon Memorial was reminder to any wavering fans that the last Hurrah is not here yet.

There is OSCAR BONAVENA in the Rowe Cup where another stable veteran can produce an upset and there is LOOK TO DA STARS the enigmatic three year old trotter everyone in the stable thinks might be a Rowe Cup runner of the future.

“I felt he was going to win last week. I don’t know why he broke when he did.But it is a maturity thing. He will come to it” Mark said

But on Friday it might be all about a triple winner for the first time in 134 years of Auckland Cups (there have been more than one some years) and whether Self Assured can do what seemed just a few weeks ago as unlikely.Just as at Addington in November.

There is the other Jimmy of course, the horse’s career long strapper and biggest fan.

One Jimmy will be staying,the other Jimmy praying. What a night if both come true







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