Hunter Cup Tips and Preview

Hunter Cup Tips Lochinvar Art (Stuart McCormick/HRV)

The Group 1 AG Hunter Cup (2760m) will be run at Melton on Saturday, February 6. Read on for our Hunter Cup Tips and Preview.

Hunter Cup Tips and Preview

Australia’s best pacer Lochinvar Art gets his chance to shine with victory in the time-honoured AG Hunter Cup. The race isn’t as intriguing to me now that it is a mobile event but the chance to see Lochinvar Art, harness racing’s new pin-up horse, should be an interesting spectacle.

Lochinvar Art is the $1.30 favourite and it is really hard to see him getting beat. He gets the barrier draw advantage over King Of Swing or at least it appears that way on paper. Lochinvar Art has won his past five starts, including the Group 1 Vicbred Super Series 4YO Entires and Geldings Final (2240m) by 30 metres!

Who will win the 2021 Hunter Cup?

Barring terrible luck in running, Lochinvar Art should be crowned the 2021 Hunter Cup champion. He has won three from six over the distance and he won 13 races from just 19 starts last season. Lochinvar Art is getting better with every run and his victory in the Group 1 Ballarat Pacing Cup (2710m) last start was breathtaking.

No disrespect to reigning champion King Of Swing who has become a beast since joining the McCarthy stable. This horse excels as a frontrunner, but it is not clear whether he will be able to charge around the outside from his second-row barrier draw in order to get ahead of Lochinvar Art in running. Every other horse in the race would be willing to take a sit on King Of Swing.

When King Of Swing doesn’t lead, he can be vulnerable, but we haven’t seen that much lately as they often hand up to him.

Lochinvar Art also showed in the Group 1 Victoria Cup (2240m) in October that he looks to be a half-level above King Of Swing at the moment. We will find out whether things have changed or not on Saturday night.

Looking for place value in the race, I have stumbled upon two horses that are racing very well.

The first is WOLF STRIDE who will be driven by Anthony Butt. The Hunter Cup has been a happy hunting ground for Butt and he pilots this exciting five-year-old gelding. A winner of the Group 2 Bendigo Pacing Cup (2650m) two starts ago, Wolf Stride then finished third in the Ballarat Pacing Cup. His sectional times have been exceptional and the longer distance won’t worry him one bit.

His best chance of running into the placings is if they aren’t shooting the lights out in an 800m dash home as it is never easy to make ground off the pegs at Melton.

The other place hope that I like at a price is OUT TO PLAY. He draws the pegs to trail Triple Eight at the start and will be hoping to settle no further back than four pegs.

Out To Play led and was beaten 6.4m by Lochinvar Art in the Ballarat Pacing Cup which is a really good effort and his form has been consistent for the most part if you ignore his failure in the Vicbred Super Series Final. He won’t be forced to do any work and with any luck in running, Out To Play should have plenty to offer as he looks to run home into the placings.