Coup Align wins his second Group III Stewards Stakes. Colin Berry Race Images Christchurch
It was once again a fitting result on Coupland’s Bakeries Raceday at Riccarton in Christchurch on Wednesday that the company Principal Ray Coupland should have another winner.
For each of the last six years, local trainer Michael Pitman has saddled at least one winner for Coupland at the corresponding meeting, including success in three of the last four contests of the $100,000, Group III, Lindauer Stewards Stakes over 1200-metres.
A year ago, Pitman said, ““I think I’m right in saying that I’ve trained one or two winners for Ray (Coupland) on this day for six of the last seven years.”
Coup Bloomsbury (Centaine) did the job in the Stewards in 2007, while the electrifying sprinter Coup Align (5 Ch. G. Align – Diamond Snip, by Snippets), owned by Coupland and his wife Jill Walls, proved too slick off the front to win in 2009 and he adopted similar tactics in his latest victory under a 58.5kg weight impost to become the highest weighted winner since the ‘Washdyke Wonder’ Grey Way (Grey William) carried 60kg to win the race in 1976.
Grey Way won fifty-one races.
As he did last year, Coup Align combined with leading jockey Lisa Allpress and displayed his customary high speed to work across from a wide gate to assume control. He carried his significant poundage at good velocity to a handy advantage under hands and heels at the furlong before kicking hard when asked for his best, winning comfortably by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
On good footing, Coup Align flew over the 1200m in 1:08.05 to beat The Chunkster (Blevic), with half-a-head to Tip The Wink (Stravinsky), who seems close to winning trim, and a short-head to fourth placed Vincent Mangano (No Excuse Needed).
“I’m pretty rapt”, said an ebullient Pitman after the race. “I’ve been in the game a long time and he’s the fastest horse I’ve seen ever trained in the South Island, and I know at times we put ourselves under pressure by saying how quick he is but today he’s proved it.”
Pitman explained an arduous travelling schedule for Coup Align on a recent return trip from Melbourne where he won at Cranbourne on October 10 and raced again at Geelong on October 20.
“He went by road from Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Auckland and back here (Christchurch) and that was all on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week. He missed three days work and he’s basically galloped the last three days to have him ready for today”, Pitman said.
“It’s great for the South Island to have a horse like this”, he added.
Coupland said, “Marvellous for us and good for the South Island. When he gets a good track he’s a different horse. It was a good field and he drew wide, carried top weight, so, very, very thrilled.”
Allpress summed up what it was like to ride the speedster, when saying, “He’s such an awesome horse and I just love riding him. He’s so fast. He wasn’t that brilliantly away today, but the first 200 metres of his races are the best and you honestly get whiplash out there, he’s really cool. He won again in a good time with fifty-eight-and-a-half on his back and it takes a pretty good horse.”
Coup Align has won twelve of his nineteen starts for earnings of $328,696.
A $30,000 purchase from the 2007 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Highview Stud, Coup Align was one of four yearlings selected for Coupland by U.K. bloodstock agent Badger Pritchard-Gordon.