Pakenham Cup winner returns to NZ for next mission

Steve Bennett Steve Bennett
  • New Zealand mare now targets the Auckland Cup
Etah James wins the 2019 Pakenham Cup


Pakenham Cup winner Etah James has returned to New Zealand with the Auckland Cup targeted as her next priority.

After finishing fourth in the Listed Sandown Cup, she was unwanted in the Listed Pakenham Cup, sent to the barriers as a $61 outsider.

But the seven-year-old mare relished the Good 3 track that day and took out the 2500m event comfortably in the end.

Her next target was to be a shot at the Adelaide Cup, however she was in need of medical attention and part-owners Mark and Cath Lupton made the call to bring her back to NZ and follow a different path.

“We were going to keep her in Australia and have a crack at the Adelaide Cup (Gr.2, 3200m), but she’s got some sarcoids on her face and they need treating,” Lupton said.

“The vets over there (Australia) wanted a small fortune, so with all things being equal we decided to bring her home and treat her here.

“We had her nominated for the Auckland Cup and it’s worth more than the Adelaide Cup.

“Maybe our stayers are not as strong as Australia so we talked to our two mates in the horse and decided to bring her home and give her a go and start her treatment, which we’ve done.”

Lupton was happy with the mare’s condition when she arrived back in NZ and did not hesitate in nominating her for a start in the Group Two Joe McDonald Avondale Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie on 15 February.

“I was pleased with her exhibition gallop, so it’s onwards and upwards and hopefully we go a good race in the Avondale Cup and can push on for the Auckland Cup.

“She’s 100 percent, we’re really happy with her. Shaun McKay rode her in the Rotorua Cup (Gr.3, 2200m) for me last year and he rode her in her gallop on Sunday and said she feels amazing.”

Winner of the Group Three Lord Reims Stakes (2600m) in 2018, Lupton was confident of her chances in the Pakenham Cup, despite average performances in the lead-up to the Listed event.

Linda Meech aboard Etah James. Together they  won the 2018 Group 3 Lord Reims Stakes

“We were pretty confident in the Pakenham Cup even though she went out at $40. My mate (Gary Howes) actually backed her at $61 in England and had a hell of a collect.

“She was strong in the Pakenham Cup and the horse that ran second (Secret Blaze) came out the following week and won a staying race at Flemington.

“She raced in the Bagot on New Year’s Day but it wasn’t run to suit her and we actually thought she’d win that but it was just a bit higgledy piggeldy.”

Luton has high hopes for her NZ campaign as he recognizes that this could be her swan song.

“The plan is to probably breed from her later in the year and hopefully she can perform well before then.”