Riccarton Hosts New Zealand’s Second Road to the Jericho
26 October 2023
Saturday marks the second of New Zealand’s two annual qualifying races for the famous A$300,000 Jericho Cup (4600m) in Victoria, with the South Island getting its turn through the running of the $50,000 NZB Airfreight Road to Jericho (3000m) at Riccarton.
The North Island’s qualifier was run at New Plymouth on September 16, and the connections of the winner Nassak Diamond (NZ) (Roc De Cambes) quickly confirmed that they intended to push on towards a shot at the Jericho Cup at Warrnambool on December 3.
The winner of each qualifying race receives a guaranteed start in the Jericho Cup. As sponsors, NZB Airfreight will offer a $5,000 equine airfreight credit for the winner of each qualifying race, should they decide to travel across the Tasman and contest the Jericho Cup.
Inaugurated in 2018, the Jericho Cup is open to Australian and New Zealand-bred horses only, commemorating the light horse involvement in World War I, and run on the fourth Sunday after the Group One Melbourne Cup (3200m). The original Jericho Cup was run in 1918 over three miles through desert sands. Its 100th anniversary was marked with the introduction of the modern Jericho Cup five years ago.
The New Zealand influence on the Jericho Cup has quickly taken hold, with the first four winners all bred on this side of the Tasman – High Mode (NZ) (Redwood), Ablaze (NZ) (Raise the Flag), Count Zero (NZ) (Zed) and Bastida (NZ) (Pierro).
There has not yet been a Kiwi-trained winner, with COVID-19 preventing New Zealand involvement in both 2020 and 2021. But Kevin Myers went close last year with Botti (NZ) (Jakkalberry), who was runner-up behind Bastida.
Riccarton’s qualifying race has this year attracted a field of 15, who between them are the winners of 46 races. There is even some proven black-type performance in the line-up, with Honesty (NZ) (Postponed) winning the Listed Dunedin Gold Cup (2400m) in February of this year.
The NZB Airfreight Road to Jericho will be run as Race 5 at Riccarton on Saturday, with a scheduled start time of 2.19pm.