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Platinum Invador relying on luck to notch back-to-back wins in New Year’s Day feature

As eye-catching as Platinum Invador’s lead-up run was, trainer Lisa Latta knows he will still need more than his share of luck to defend his $200,000 City Of Auckland Cup title at Ellerslie on Friday.

Platinum Invador could hardly have been more impressive in his first run back from an Australian campaign in the Manawatu Cup 11 days ago.

Despite starting from a very wide gate and losing a front plate in the running, the horse came from the back, charging through the pack to finish seventh, in tight quarters just 2.9 lengths from winner Hunta Pence.

His closing sectionals for the last 800 metres (46.07), 600 metres (34.3) and 400 metres (22.99) were the best in the 2300 metre race and reflected rider Ryan Elliot’s excitement.

“Ryan was stoked with the run,” Latta said. “But he’s drawn wide again and (because of his racing style) he’ll need a fair bit of luck to win.”

Platinum Invador scores a brilliant two and three quarter length win in the City Of Auckland Cup on January 1.Platinum Invador scores a brilliant two and three quarter length win in the City Of Auckland Cup on January 1.Platinum Invador will jump from the extreme outside alley of 16 on Friday and while he also drew three from the outside last year when beating Concert Hall, Latta says his task was made easier with the late scratching of three horses after the false start.

Latta isn’t concerned that Platinum Invador has had only one lead-up race to prepare for Friday’s 2400 metre test.

The horse had five races through September and October in his Australian campaign under Peter Moody, the latest in the Hotham Handicap at Flemington on October 31.

“He had only two weeks off when he got back and he’s pretty fit. He has also really gone ahead since his run in the Manawatu Cup. Jonathan (Riddell) galloped him right-handed on Monday morning and said he felt great.”

Platinum Invador, rated a $10 third equal favourite with the bookies, carries just 1kg more than the 55.5kg he had last year when ridden by Leith Innes, but meets race favourite Savy Yong Blonk ($3.30) on 2kg worse terms.

Latta says she is confident Elliot can do a good job on the horse again and she will review riding tactics after watching the pattern of racing earlier in the day.

Big ask of Petals

Latta knows she is asking plenty of Platinum Petals in the $100,000 Royal Stakes (2000m) but sees the race as an investment in the filly’s future.

“This is a big step up in class for her but it will be good experience to have a trip away and a run the other way around.”

Latta has put blinkers on Platinum Petals to sharpen her up for her first test at Ellerslie. The filly raced quite dour when fourth last time over 1600 metres at Hastings.

“Hopefully that helps her find a length or two. I know it’s a big ask but we’d be rapt if she could weigh in.

“She has worked well right-handed and is feeling well in herself.”

Platinum Petals is nominated for the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham in March.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Saturday at Trentham

Race 2: Lincoln Hills
12.45pm

“He has freshened up really nicely and hopefully we get the fire out of the ground which he really likes. His work has been really good and, while there are a few nice horses against him, we know he performs fresh-up. Sam O’Malley will claim 3kg down to 58kg.”

Race 6: Father Lenihan
3.05pm

“This is a big drop back in class for him and Temyia Taiaroa’s 3kg claim will bring him down to 58.5kg which I think will be a competitive weight for him. The key to him is having a nice draw and being able to sit just in behind the speed. His work has been very good and hopefully with rain about, the track comes up dead.”

Race 7: Platinum Spirit
3.40pm

“Ryan (Elliot) didn’t have any luck on him at all last week - he elected to go in and the gaps all closed up. He’s thrived since and all the rain has really sparked him up. He looks fantastic and I couldn’t be happier with him. Jonathan Riddell will ride and on his run last week you would expect him to be very hard to beat.”