GRAFTON CUP - 2350m, Grafton R7
The Listed Grafton Cup on Thursday is actually the feature race in the Eastern racing states this week, given Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane have no black type offerings on their Saturday cards.
The in-form Zoumon is the warm favourite, having won two Listed races of his own this campaign. He is a bold front-runner in the classic Gai Waterhouse style, and after five career wins around the 2000m distance, he finally ticked the 2400m box last start. Those wins were with 53kg’s and 54.5kg’s on his back, but he has to carry 58.5kg’s now.
Benaud is the fascinating runner. Earlier this season he ran within two and a half lengths of Anamoe at WFA, and started $11 in a Caulfield Cup. Yet there he was last week running in a Class 1 at Wyong, due to the fact that his only career win had come in a maiden. He won that race by six lengths as he was entitled to, but it felt like double that.
The reason John O’Shea dropped Benaud back to such a low grade was because he had been just going in his previous six runs this preparation. With his confidence back up, he needs to find seven lengths to turn the tables on Zoumon from two starts ago.
Spirit Ridge is an old marvel. The rising nine-year-old is about to race at his seventh track in four states this calendar year alone. We know he’s game and honest, has been in good form, and will give his usual good account with a big weight.
Regal Lion can mix his form, and we’ve seen that in his three runs this prep with a win in the Ipswich Cup flanked by two plainer efforts either side. He’s always capable of winning if he brings his best, but is hard to trust hence the double figure odds available.
London Banker and Tappy’s Lad have been in some of the same races as those above, running well enough without really threatening. Tappy’s Lad does get a nice weight swing on Zoumon from their last clash, when there was only a length and a half between them.
There’ll be no fitter horse in the race than Outlandos, who is in career best form for John Sargent. He claimed the scalp of the smart Al Aabir three back, and the highly fancied Wahine Toa in the Stayers Cup last start. He didn’t stay the 3200m of the Brisbane Cup but is relishing these mile and a half contests, and could be the smart each-way play.
Selections: 1.Outlandos 2.Benaud 3.Zoumon 4.Spirit Ridge
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check Playup Website For Latest Odds