It’s a condition that has embraced the Taree cup for many years and several leading trainers hope to use it to their advantage on Sunday.
The winner of this year’s Stacks Law Firm Taree Cup (2000m) will be exempt from a ballot for this year’s Listed $160,000 Carlton Mid Wyong Gold Cup (2100m) on September 2.
It’s a condition that has prompted trainers such as John Sargent, Allan Kehoe, Damien Lane, Greg Hickman and possibly Kris Lees to target this year’s $80,000 Taree cup (2000m) as a stepping stone to Wyong.
John Sargent sees the Taree cup as the ideal lead up and perfectly placed for Elusive Runner, to be ridden by Blake Spriggs.
“He is a lovely horse that has had some issues but is slowly getting back to his best form and the cup is a nice little step up for him,” Sargent said.
“The Wyong cup has been on the radar for some little time because I think it is a race that will suit him.
“We will see how he goes on Sunday then make a decision.”
Elusive Runner gave all the indications of developing into a top class galloper for Sargent when he jumped from winning a Goulburn maiden over 1600 metres in April 2014 to running seventh, beaten only three lengths, in the Group One Queensland Derby (2400m) three runs later.
His owner obviously agreed with Sargent’s assessment and the horse was dispatched to Hong Kong but never raced there.
“He did a suspensory ligament so he was sent back to Australia and put in the paddock for 12 months,” Sargent said.
“He shows no signs of the injury and has improved with each of his four runs this time in.”
Elusive Runner topped off his Taree cup campaign with a luckless seventh at Rosehill last Saturday after getting on heels in the last 500 metres.
The Ken Lantry trained Egyptian Ruler ran a mighty race in that same event to finish fourth and before that was a good fifth in the Grafton cup and looms as a big threat.
Wyong based trainers Allan Kehoe (Get On The Grange) and Damien Lane (Pirate Ben) both have the Wyong cup in their sights.
Get On The Grange, the winner of three city races, started to hit his straps this preparation after running fifth in the Wingham Cup at Taree in June.
“He ran into all sorts of trouble and should have won,” Kehoe said.
The horse went on to win successive races at Warwick Farm and Doomben and run successive fourths at Canterbury and Randwick.
The Damien Lane trained Pirate Ben goes into the cup third up after freshen up with a fourth at Canterbury and a ninth at Rosehill.
However before that he won the Gooree Cup at Mudgee and successive races at Randwick and Canterbury.
“He is backing up only eight days after racing at Rosehill which is not ideal but providing he can find a spot just behind the speed I think he is in it with a real chance,” Lane said.
Kris Lees will start top weights Slow Pace (Robert Thompson) and Olympic Academy (Aaron Bullock) and rates Olympic Academy the better of the two.
“Slow Pace is a nine year old which has not won for a long time and has had a lot of problems,” Lees said.
“This looks a nice race for Olympic Academy and we might consider the Wyong cup for him but it is more likely he will go to the Newcastle cup.”
The Hickman trained Braces, to be ridden by Winona Costin, has been a model of consistency with a win and three placings in mid week company at Canterbury before running second at Randwick in Saturday company.