A good field will gather this Wednesday for the running of the Listed Mornington Cup and rightly so. It is Australia’s richest country cup race with a total purse of $350,000.00 on offer but the big carrot at the end of the stick, is that the winner also is granted a place in this year’s Caulfield Cup. A race now worth $3M! It is no surprise then to see trainers the likes of Gai Waterhouse, Chris Waller, Peter Moody and Victoria’s current leading trainer Darren Weir represented. It is Weir’s runner, Pirate Of Penzance who is the current favourite at $2.85, just in advance of the Gai Waterhouse pair of Travolta ($4.20) and Laidback Larry ($5.50).
Special Offer: $250 FREE BET – Sportsbet
1. TRAVOLTA – N Rawiller (12) 60kgs
The 5yo comes here in very solid form. The tenacious front-runner comfortably won the Listed ATC Cup (2000m) by 2 ¼ lengths before running narrow seconds to I’m Imposing and Permit in the G3 Summer Cup (2400m) and Listed Tatt’s Club Cup (2400m) respectively. On each occasion the 5yo sat on a the speed and made the winner earn victory the hard way. His most recent start came almost three weeks ago where, in the small field of six contesting the Listed Australia Day Cup (2400m), he again was involved in a close finish but this time, came out on top, defeating Big Memory by a nose. Gives the rest of the field at least 5kgs and may have to do a little bit of work early from a poor draw but he is fit, in form and sure to give a good account of himself regardless.
2. PRINCE OF PENZANCE – M Payne (3) 55kgs
The promising 4yo by Pentire made it five wins from nine starts with a good win in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at his most recent outing. A lovely ride by Payne saw him camp behind the speed before being produced at the top of the straight from where he finished too strong for his rivals, recording a ¾ length win over Oregon Spirit. Payne will have to produce a similar effort given his inside draw which can prove a little tricky around the tight Mornington circuit. He is still improving and will take plenty of beating.
3. OREGON SPIRIT – V Durci (6) 54.5kgs
Three starts back, the Peter Moody trained galloper finished strongly from the tail of the field to win the Listed Lord Stakes (1600m) at this track, defeating Durnford. In two runs since that victory, he was plain behind Eraset, Pirate Of Penzance and He’s Your Man when eighth of ten (5.4 lengths) in a 1720m race at Flemington, before bouncing back with a good second to Pirate Of Penzance in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m). Settled at the tail of the field but got onto Pirate’s Of Penzance’s back rounding the turn and had his chance to run him down in the straight, falling ¾ of a length short. First start at beyond 2000m and given that his run seemed to peak last start, think others will be stronger late then he.
4. COOLDINI – G Boss (8) 54kgs
Not surprisingly, he found the 1400m of the Listed Manifold Stakes too sharp when returning from a twenty-three week spell last month. Robert Smerdon’s 4yo then jumped to the 2000m of the Mornington Cup Prelude at his next and only start since, where he finished an encouraging sixth (2.9 lengths) behind Pirate Of Penzance. Will strip much better for having had that run and Boss, who rode him last start, sticking with him here is a positive. Last three wins have come at 2400m + and a bold showing is expected.
5. GOTTINO – R Maloney (10) 54kgs
He was given a lovely run in transit two starts ago and looked set to score in an Open class race at Flemington (2500m) but the combination of weight (57kgs) and distance combined late and he finished second to Angola. He then crossed to take up a forward position from his wide gate before weakening badly late and finishing tenth of thirteen in BM 96 (2400m) at Caulfield behind Instrumentalist. He’ll enjoy some weight relief here for the first time in a few starts but not sure over this trip in a race of this class, if that’ll be enough to see him finish among the place-getters.
6. HE’S YOUR MAN – C Williams (9)
Former import from the Chris Waller stable, the lightly raced 5yo has had three starts in Australia. The first saw him close well from the tail of the field to run ¾ length second in Open class over 1400m before sticking on well from a forward position, when third to Eraset and Pirate Of Penzance over 1720m. Started 7/2 second favourite in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude at his most recent start and sat outside leader and favourite Laidback Larry. The pair only battled late and He’s Your Man ran fourth (2.6 lengths). Better ridden with a sit and should appreciate now getting to 2400m where his overseas record reads very well (5:2-1-0) and includes a Listed win.
7. DURNFORD – D Lane (5) 54kgs
The Helenus gelding trained by local conditioner Pat Carey ran second in this race last year to Tuscan Fire. He was given a month off after failing on the heavy track in the Ballarat Cup and returned with an encouraging second (1 ½ lengths) to Oregon Spirit in the Listed Lord Stakes (1600m) here at Mornington. His only run since was another solid effort when fifth (3.1 lengths) behind Eraset, Pirate Of Penzance and He’s Your Man over 1720m at Flemington. Form out of those two races has stood up well and getting to 2400m should suit now he’s third up. From three starts, twice placed second in Listed company at this track and capable of running a better race than his current quote of $31 would suggest.
8. INSTRUMENTALIST – C Newitt (4)
Second of Waller’s runners, this 5yo recorded his second win from his third Victorian start, when taking out a BM 96 (2400m) last start. He made a long sustained run from the tail of the field to score a narrow defeat over Magnapal. Newitt will get the best out of this bloke and would expect for them to try and take up a closer position to the speed from a good draw compared to last start. First crack at his level and has drifted from $9 – $11 in early betting.
9. MACEDONIAN – J Benbow (2)
The 8yo by Zabeel ended up – successfully – contesting hurdles races at the end of his last prep after almost three years of winless starts on the flat. He’s been well accounted for in two runs back from a spell over 1700 and 2000m and whilst he did run third in this race last year, happy to wait for him to get back over the sticks now.
10. LAIDBACK LARRY – D Oliver (7)
After registering three straight wins in Sydney, the Gai Waterhouse runner was backed as if unbeatable when making his Victorian debut a fortnight ago in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude and started 9/10 on favourite. From a wide gate, he was caught on a limb early and ended up working to the lead as the field climbed the hill in Caulfield’s back straight. Turning for home, he was joined by He’s Your Man and the pair looked set to fighting out but the run took its toll late and both struggled late. Laidback Larry finished fifth (2.7 lengths) behind Pirates Of Penzance. Drawn better here and expect him to waste no time going forward this time out. Showed plenty of promise of Sydney, had excuses last start and the Mornington track should suit. At $5.50, it could be worth giving him another go.
11. ANGOLA – C Symons (11)
The 5yo by Helenus has been mixing up his form a bit this time in. Three starts ago, after leading the field during the run, he finished well beaten a well beaten ninth of eleven in the in a 2000m Open race at Flemington before finishing third (6 ¾ length) in the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m) behind Electric Fusion again, after having taken up a prominent position throughout. His next and most recent start saw him win a 2500m Open class race at Flemington, his third career win from nineteen starts, where he sat in a handy position and outstayed Gottino and Reigning to win by a length. That was a month ago now and this rise to this class, from a wide gate, he’ll have to produce a career best.
Very competitive race, as a $350k race should be. A big weight and wide gate have stopped many a good horse but the early money came from Travolta when markets first opened. He’ll be in it for a long way but has only one win from five at the distance and that came when he had every chance against five rivals in the Aust Day Cup. Pirate Of Penzance is a promising galloper and it appears that mentally, the penny is starting to drop. Payne will need to produce another good ride from an inside draw. Making is own luck out in front will be Laidback Larry. Oliver won’t wait as he did last time, he’ll go forward early and either takes up the running, or settle of stab-mate Travolta. He too has showed plenty of promise and should be given another go. He’s Your Man appears to be value given he beat Laidback Larry home last start – albeit narrowly – will appreciate stepping up to 2400m and when he has something to chase. Any cut out of the track wouldn’t hurt. Cooldini was only 2 ¾ lengths of Pirate Of Penzance last start and would’ve taken enormous benefit out of the run. Will get the trip and is good each-way value. Bolter of the field – Durnford.
MOBILE USERS (Quick and easy sign-up)
Special Offer: $250 SPORTSBET FREE BET
Special Offer 2: $300 SPORTINGBET FREE BET