Is this the year for Latta?

Platinum Invador

Lisa Latta is hoping this is her year in the Group 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m). The Palmerston North trainer has finished runner-up in New Zealand’s feature staying race and she is hoping in-form galloper Platinum Invador is the horse that can finally secure her the silverware.

“King Kamada was beaten into second in 2015,” she said. “Then Five To Midnight got beaten two years ago by a pencil line and then last year it was a wet track and he ran second again, it was a good run. “It is certainly a race you would love to win, that’s for sure.”

Platinum Invador has been in fine form this preparation, winning the Group 3 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s day and placing in three stakes races, including the Group 2 Avondale Cup (2400m) last start.

The son of Redwood stormed home late to nab second-place in the Avondale Cup and has subsequently been installed as a $3.60 favourite for the Auckland Cup ahead of Australian raiders Azuro and Sound at $5.50 and $6 respectively. “It was a great run in the Avondale Cup, Leith (Innes, jockey) was really happy with him, he just got held up slightly, but he finished it off well,” Latta said. “I have been really happy with him since then. He has worked up well and he travelled up early this (Friday) morning.”

While confident in the gelding’s staying abilities, Latta is still wary of a number of her opposition on Saturday. “The two Australian horses (Azuro and Sound) look hard to beat and there were a couple of other good runs in the Avondale Cup,” she said. “My horse is fit and well, so that’s all I can ask for.”

Latta saw Platinum Invador’s staying prowess when he placed in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) last year and it was at that point she highlighted the Auckland Cup as his major target as a four-year-old. “When we brought him back from Sydney last year we thought we would give him a decent break and we highlighted the Auckland Cup as his major target this year,” she said.

Platinum Invador finished unplaced in his two starts in Sydney last year, but he may get the chance to redeem himself at this year’s carnival if he performs well at Ellerslie on Saturday. “He is nominated for the Sydney Cup (Group 1, 3200m). We will just get Saturday out of the way and then make a decision.”

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