Chris Munce piloted Brayroan to victory in last year’s Caloundra Cup, his third success in the race, and in this year’s edition of the Listed event to be held on the Sunshine Coast Saturday, Munce hopes to add another Cup to his tally but this time as trainer, with his representative Perplexity. After announcing his retirement from riding earlier this year, Munce took up training and has hit the ground runner, preparing six winners from only thirty-seven runners thus far and went within a fraction of landing last week’s Group 2 Champagne Stakes with Wicked Intent. Perplexity ($7.00) has won twice for Munce after being transferred to him from the Sydney stables of Chris Waller earlier this year. Waller will be out to thwart both Munce and his former stable runner though with top-weight and early favourite Index Linked ($3.60). The 7yo has only had the one start over this trip, a tenth (4.8 lengths) in the Mornington Cup, but will be giving every chance to see the trip out by jockey Damien Browne, who won this race in 2013 with Zennista, with the pair jumping from the perfect draw.
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1. INDEXED LINKED – D Browne (4)
Given a perfect ride by Glen Boss in the JRA Plate (2000m) two starts back but on the wet track, could only manage fifth (2.9 lengths) behind Gypsy Diamond before heading to the Gold Coast for the Chairman’s Handicap (2200m) three weeks ago. He again was given his chance in the run but found the sharply improved Epingle a shade too strong late and finished second (half a length). Despite being up since December, the 7yo is still racing well and will make his presence felt here.
2. TREMEC – T Bell (2)
Relished the heavy conditions and was too strong in the Chairman’s Handicap at Randwick two starts back, defeating Sir John Hawkwood and subsequent Sydney Cup winner Grand Marshal, before heading to the Gold Coast for their edition of the same race. Unlike the Randwick run, he was slowly away and settled at the tail of the field early before making a mid-race move to settle on speed. He was under pressure though on the firmer track heading into the turn and only battled away in the straight, running sixth (2.5 lengths).
Not much went right last start but best chance of him winning come with a rain-affected track.
3. ESCADO – L Nolen (7)
After solid efforts behind Suavito in the G2 Blamey Stakes and Sertorius in the G3 Easter Cup, his two recent runs in Brisbane have been disappointing. He drew the inside gate and had no choice but to try and come home along the fence when twelfth (5.3 lengths) to Leebaz in the Hollindale Stakes before being outclassed in last week’s Doomben Cup (2000m) when twelfth again, this time almost ten lengths behind winner Pornichet. Better suited back to this grade and on his Melbourne form, would rate some hope, but his poor strike rate and previous two runs make it difficult to include him here.
4. SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD – J Byrne (8)
Former import that has really mixed up his efforts since joining the Peter Moody stable in the spring of 2013. Two starts back he chased home Tremec in the G2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) and was expected to go one better when lining up next on the Gold Coast in the Chairman’s Handicap as favourite but not for the first time, the 6yo disappointed as a well-supported commodity. Has won on a good surface, at Flemington in a BM 90, but fancy he needs some cut in the track to produce his best.
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5. VOLKHERE – T Harrison (11)
Looks cherry-ripe for this after five runs back from a spell, the most recent of which was a closing second to Pornichet – ultra impressive winner of last week’s G1 Doomben Cup, in the Toowoomba Cup a fortnight ago. This is his first go at 2400m but his record at or beyond 2000m is solid and combined with his recent efforts he’ll be right in the mix here despite having a poor draw to contend with.
6. PERPLEXITY – J Lloyd (6)
He had been racing well leading into the G3 Chairman’s Handicap on the Gold Coast three weeks back, unlike previous starts though, he was slow away and it wasn’t until the field entered the back straight that the 5yo pushed forward to find a more familiar role on the speed. He battled away strongly in the straight and finished fourth (2.3 lengths) behind Epingle and Index Linked. Drawn well enough to find a good sport early and can stick on.
7. FRETON – L Tarrant (10)
Went within a neck of recording his first win in 12 months and thirteen starts when shaded by Perplexity in a BM 95 (2200m), with Volkhere third, before making good ground late from well back in the Toowoomba Cup (2150m) when sixth (3.6 lengths) to Pornichet. Only lightly raced beyond 2000m but his last two efforts would suggest that he’s enjoying the longer journeys and applying himself well. Gave the impression further again will suit and he’ll find this no harder than the Toowoomba Cup.
8. ONGOING VENTURE – M Cahill (9)
Had been struggling in Open company and finished last of nine in the Listed Tails Stakes before a drop in grade, to a BM 85 (2220m) on the Gold Coast two starts back, saw an improved effort when second to Monaco Doll. A return to a better class of race at his following start, the Toowoomba Cup, saw him again struggle again though and he finished a well-beaten seventh. Meets several of those in the Toowoomba Cup again here and like last time, they should have him covered.
9. LUCKZAT – J Taylor (3)
This 6yo mare has been on the Country Cups circuit around country Victoria recently and whilst winless, has registered placings in the Penola and Coonawarra Cups from her past seven runs. Hard to see those runs though being good enough for her to win here especially when receiving no advantage at the weights in comparison to her recent starts.
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10. SUPERCOACH – R Wiggins (12)
Take out a month off in March and this 5yo by Casino Prince has been racing September of last year, and consistently. Toowoomba Trainer Ben Currie entered his charge into this local Cup race at his most recent outing and he belied his odds of $41 by running fifth (2.8 lengths) to Pornichet. Currie still has him improving, Toowoomba was only the second time in the past sixteen starts he had failed to finish in the top four, and despite the wide draw, wouldn’t be too quick in writing him off totally here either.
11. WIMPOLE STREET – (5)
It’d been a long, long wait, his maiden win come at start number three, but connections of this 6yo finally celebrated his second career win, at start number thirty, recently on the Gold Coast when he took out a Class Plate (2200m). Pretty sure though that that effort won’t result in his third victory coming in this race.
12. KOBI CREEK – (1)
Had to share his second career victory when he dead-heated with Valtari on the Gold Coast last week in a Class 1 (2200m). Lightly raced and obviously staying will be his future but aiming too high here at this stage of his career.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Volkhere pushes forward from wide out with Perplexity and Tremec also prominent. Volkhere is in solid form and only needs a touch of luck to find a position early from the poor draw, to continue his run of good results. Index Linked should get the perfect run here behind the speed. Has had every chance at his last two outings and there’s a slight query on him over the 2400m but a drop in grade plus the services of D. Browne are two factors that counter those concerns. Freton could be the value runner for mine. Good at his last two starts and should get last shot at them here.
1. INDEX LINKED