Central Districts stayer Platinum Invador has a number of factors in his favour when he contests the Group 2 Wallen Concreting Avondale Cup (2400m) at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The Lisa Latta-trained five-year-old is a +600 second favourite for the staying handicap, which will be used as a springboard to the Group 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) on March 13.
Platinum Invador has had six starts at Ellerslie for a win and four placings and will present in good order as he attempts to go one better than last year, when he was narrowly beaten by Polzeath in the Avondale Cup, on the way to placing in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m).
Following the same path as last year, Platinum Invador was good when beaten a pimple in the Group 3 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) on New Year’s Day at Ellerslie, before finishing ninth when dropping back in distance to the Group 3 Taranaki Cup (1800m).
“I am really happy with him,” Latta said. “He is exactly where I want him to be. He finished about the same amount of lengths from the winner in the Taranaki Cup (4.9 lengths) than what he did the year before.
“The distance was way too short for him and the track was a bit off, which really doesn’t suit him either.”
With Ellerslie a Dead4 on Friday and the Auckland sun shining, Platinum Invador carries 54.5kgs in a field headed by Sound (59kgs), who has recently transferred from Mike Moroney’s Flemington Stable to his Matamata barn where he trains in partnership with Pam Gerard.
Latta is pleased the races will take place at Ellerslie, with Auckland’s COVID-19 restrictions downgraded to level 2, meaning a back-up plan to transfer the races to Te Rapa was not required.
“He has never raced at Te Rapa, so that would have been an unknown,” Latta said. “While he does go well at Ellerslie, I think it is more a case that the right races over the distances that suit him happen to be there.”
With Ryan Elliot in the saddle and an inside draw in barrier 2, Platinum Invador will be hard to beat as he prepares to step up to two miles three weeks later.
“The Auckland Cup (which is worth $500,000) is the one that we want. It is the one that everyone wants,” Latta said.
“He has been drawing so wide we have had to go back in a number of his races. He is not going to have to use as much gas to find a spot from barrier 2, so I guess we will watch the pattern of racing and go from there.”
Travelling companion Lincoln Star (+1100) will have to overcome barrier 16 in the Fleet Image 1600 earlier on the Ellerslie card, where two-kilo claiming apprentice Wiremu Pinn has been engaged.
“I am a little bit concerned by the wide draw, but he is a very versatile horse. He is not a very big horse but he always tries his best,” Latta said.