Long Range Cup Plans

Future plans for gift horse Cougar Nights centre around next year’s $120,000 Bunbury Cup.

Cougar Nights gained his third win from six starts – he’s only finished out of the first two once – when successful in the BGC Contracting Pty Ltd Handicap (1650m) at Belmont Park on Saturday.
Trainer Michael Lane plans to give the Trade Fair five-year-old ‘three or four’ more starts this preparation. He will then have a let-up during spring before being trained for the Cup, which will be run over 2200m on March 12.
“It’s a race we would dearly love to win,” said Lane, who was bought up in Bunbury and was an accomplished jockey before turning to training on his home track then shifting to an 83-acre property at Boyanup earlier this year. “I never got close as a jockey and have only had one unplaced runner as a trainer.
“Cougar Nights will run over 1600m on Saturday week and we’ll 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, based in Melbourne and holding his own against the best jockeys in Australia, would be the long odds-on favourite.
Lane’s fiancé, Stacey Pickett, was given the broodmare Mahawangsa and her yearling, who turned out to be Cougar Nights.
Mahawangsa, by Bletchley Park, had won nine races, from 1200m to 1632m, and descends from the great Coral Park family that produced Perth Cup winners Royal Coral and Muros.
Cougar Nights had a club foot. Veterinarians operated successfully and it has not been a problem. The problem came later when he suffered ligament damage in a training accident and needed a 12-month break.
Last Saturday’s success was at Cougar Nights’ third run back. The authority of the win, at his first run beyond 1410m, further indicated that he has a future worth planning.