Gift horse groomed for Bunbury Cup

Future plans for gift horse Cougar Nights centre around next year’s LR Bunbury Cup (2200m).

Cougar Nights (5g Trade Fair – Mahawangsa by Bletchley Park) gained his third win from six starts when successful in the BGC Contracting Hcp (1650m) at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Trainer Michael Lane plans to give the Trade Fair fivegelding three or four more starts this preparation.  He will then have a let-up during spring before being trained for the Bunbury Cup scheduled for March 12.

“It’s a race we would dearly love to win,” said Lane.  “I never got close as a jockey and have only had one unplaced runner as a trainer.”

Lane was bought up in Bunbury and was an accomplished jockey before turning to training on his home track before shifting to an 83-acre property at Boyanup earlier this year.

“Cougar Nights will run over 1600m on Saturday week and we will then look at gradually increasing his race distances.  It’s obviously an unknown but I’m quite confident he will eventually handle middle distance racing.”

And there’s no prize for guessing who will ride Cougar Nights if he gets to the Cup.  Lane’s son Damian, who is based in Melbourne, would be the long odds-on favourite.

Damian’s fiancé Stacey Pickett was given Mahawangsa and her yearling who turned out to be Cougar Nights.  The mare had won 9 races and she descends from the great Coral Park family that produced Perth Cup winners Royal Coral and Muros.

Cougar Nights had a club foot but veterinarians operated successfully and it has not been a problem although he did suffer ligament damage in a training accident and needed a 12-month break.

The authority of last Saturday’s win, at his first run beyond 1410m, further indicated that he has a future worth planning.