Hayes could continue romance with Australian Cup. It has to be one of David Hayes’ favourite races – the Australian Cup, and this Saturday he has a legitimate chance to add another to his already impressive tally. Hayes’ champion Better Loosen Up won the 1991 edition and since, he has prepared Istidaad, Niconero and last year’s winner, Spillway. This year he’s hoping a mare, Rising Romance, who has finished second in five Group 1 races in her career, including the 2014 Caulfield Cup, can join the above group. Given her two recent run back from a spell – his confidence should be high. She’s a $7.50 chance in opening markets and on the fourth line of betting. Favourite is Bow Creek – impressive winner of the Peter Young Stakes. If successful, he’ll emulate the feat of Fiorente who won the double in 2014.
1. HAPPY TRAILS – D Dunn (8)
Ran better than his tenth placing first up in the C F Orr Stakes would suggest, finishing within three lengths of the winner Suavito. Had every chance second up in the Peter Young (1800m), settling three back the running line and working into it from the 600m however, he was only holding his position last furlong and finished seventh (3.5 lengths) behind Bow Creek. Ran third in this race last year – after running second in the Peter Young, but for him to better that effort this year, wanted to see a bit more from him late last start than we did.
2. PREFERMENT – J Bowman (10)
Given eleven weeks off after finishing down the track in the G1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) last December, and returned with a very good fourth (4.1 lengths) behind stable-mate and benchmark galloper Winx, in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m). Won second up over 2000m last prep – defeating Magic Hurricane in the G2 Hill Stakes over 2000m, and has two Group 1 wins to his name from three Flemington starts. Will be charging home late.
3. EXTRA ZERO – M Zahra (3)
Only win since March 2012 has been here at Flemington over 2000m – on New Year’s Day last year. Went on to run a narrow second to Spillway in that year’s edition of the Australian Cup as a $101 chance but given his four subsequent starts at the elite level have all seen him unplaced, would think he starts another big price for Saturday’s renewal.
4. MOURINHO – C Newitt (2)
After two disappointing runs from as many starts back from a spell, it was good to see the Group 1 winner back to some form in last fortnight’s Peter Young Stakes (1800m), running second to Bow Creek. He set the pace last time out and boxed on very well. Expect the same tactics to be employed here, or for him to at least sit on the speed, but he is winless from five starts this track and it may be hard to hold of a quality field like this for the duration of the long Flemington straight.
5. OUR IVANHOWE – B Melham (1)
Excellent return first up in the Peter Young Stakes when fifth (2.3 lengths) behind Bow Creek. Settling mid-field on the fence, the 6yo stallion ran into a dead-end at the top of the straight between the eventual winner and Fenway – who finished second. He found trouble again inside the final hundred and without the uninterrupted run – who knows how close he may have gone to landing his Australia win. Flemington 2000m looks ideal for him second up and with a touch of luck this time around from the inside gate, has to be rated a strong hope.
6. BOW CREEK – D Oliver (11)
Found plenty of trouble first up in the CF Orr Stakes when looking for a run along the fence and his thirteenth finishing place was to be disregarded. The Godolphin rolled the dice again when searching for runs inside the majority of the field second up in the Peter Young Stakes, but this time his luck was in, sprinting well when the gap opened up in side the final 100m to win by 1.5 lengths. Won’t have gone backwards after that victory and last time he contested a race over this distance, he finished second to King Fisher – (It’s Somewhat, third) in the Listed Dee Stakes in the UK. Will settle back from eleven but more than capable of mowing them down.
7. ALMOONQITH – M Walker (7)
Second last and widest when resuming from his spell in the Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield a fortnight back, and did well enough late in finishing ninth (4.2 lengths). Can be a sharp improver with that run now under his belt – especially over the 2000m at Flemington which will suit his style, but past three wins have been at 2400m or beyond, and may need just one more before reaching his peak – which he’d need to be at to be winning in this company.
8. AWESOME ROCK – S Baster (9)
Forget the first up effort where he jumped awkwardly, settled back and never figured in the CF Orr Stakes. His only start since, the Peter Young, is more a truer reflection of what this 4yo stallion is capable of. He settled second in the run and never gave an inch in the straight, only wilting the last 50m and holding on for fourth (2.3 lengths). Won’t find this any easier though – still only the two wins in his career from seventeen starts, and has been well accounted for on his previous two attempts at Group 1. Might be aiming a tad too high.
9. RISING ROMANCE – C Williams (6)
Thought her run first up in the C F Orr Stakes was very good when finishing strongly from the back of the field to get within 3.1 lengths of the winner Suavito. Had no luck at all last time out – her only run since, when sixth (3.3 lengths) in the Peter Young Stakes and with any clear room in the straight, for mine, would’ve filled a place. Ran half a length second last visit this track/trip in the G1 Mackinnon Stakes during the spring and given her two performance the past month, could easily go one better here. Rates a great chance.
10. SUAVITO – L Currie (5)
Got one of the sweetest rides/runs you’d ever see in a Group 1 when claiming the C F Orr Stakes first up from a long spell. Sat in the box seat again at her following start, the G1 Futurity Stakes, but this time just couldn’t reel in the talented Turn Me Loose who beat her into third place by 1.2 lengths. Both above runs were over 1400m and she’s ready for this trip now. Again, gets the gun-run from gate five and no surprise to see her right in the thick of things late.
11. FENWAY – B Shinn (4)
No luck when resuming from a spell, caught in the middle of a bunching field at a crucial stage and she should have finished much closer to the winner of the C F Orr Stakes – Suavito, than the 2.7 length margin that she did. Got a much sweeter run at her next and most recent start, the Peter Young Stakes, settling in the one/one and presenting strongly at the top of the straight. Only Bow Creek got the better of her late, and she finished second (1.5 lengths). Gets the right kind of run again from four, Blake Shinn goes on – he is two from four on her, including the G1 Vinery (2000m) and G2 Stock Stakes, and she’s sure to be herself right in contention.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Mourinho and Fenway push forward with Awesome Rock crossing from wider out. Going with the mare Rising Romance who should be able to settle closer to the speed from six than she has been in more recent times, and hoping that provides her with a bit of a head-start in the straight on the three favoured runners. Leading chances Preferment, Bow Creek and Our Ivanhowe, will all be settling in the second half of the field but be charging late. Would be surprised to see the winner of the race come from outside of the top four chances according to the market.