Trainer Tony McEvoy enjoyed plenty of success last season on the Victorian Country Cups circuit winning the Seymour, Sale and Werribee feature races and punters are keen on his chances of adding another Cup to the resume when Le Roi contests the Cranbourne Cup this Sunday. Le Roi’s opening price of $9.50 was quickly snapped up with the 6yo stallion’s price firming into $7.00. It’s a competitive renewal of the $200k feature with the early favourite Mourinho, who ran third in last year’s race, at $5.00, just in advance of Mr. O’Ceirin ($5.50) and Count Encosta ($6.50). Extra Zero, who is searching for his first win since March of 2012, is $7.50 with two of the three mares in the race, Epingle and More Than Sacred also well in contention at $9.00 and $8.50 respectively.
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1. MR. O’CEIRIN – C Williams (3) 59.5kgs
Held his ground well second up behind He’s Your Man, subsequent winner of the Epsom Handicap, when sixth (3.5 lengths) in the Hill Stakes before chasing valiantly in the run home to finish fourth (1.2 lengths) behind The Cleaner in the JRA Cup (2040m) last start. At his peak now and fourth up last prep ran second to Moriarty in the WFA Eagle Farm Cup (2200m). Weight should be negated to a degree by his good draw and any cut out of the track will be welcomed.
2. MOURINHO – C Newitt (10) 59kgs
Has chased The Cleaner home in the G2 Dato’Tan Chin Name and JRA Cup at his last two starts, finishing second (0.8 length) and third (0.5 length) respectively. Coupled with his first up win in an Open class handicap and the 7yo is going as well as ever this time in. Ran third in this race last year (under the same weight) after winning the JRA Cup and is sure to be right in the mix again.
3. BLACK TYCOON – B Melham (8) 58.5kgs
Former Perth Cup winner who has finished well out of the placings in two runs back from a six month spell for new trainer Darren Weir, being beaten by 7.4 and last start, 17.4 lengths in an Open class races over 1400m and 1700m respectively. Not going well enough to win here.
4. EPINGLE – L Nolen (13) 57kgs
The Mick Kent trained galloper resumed from a spell running fourth of six (3.3 lengths) behind Dear Demi and Solicit (rated a leading chance in markets for Saturday’s Group 1 Toorak) in the G2 Stock Stakes. Settling back in the field, the 7yo mare was warming to her task nicely over the final stages and the quick step up to 2000m will not bother her. The wide gate will see her settle back but she’ll be working home well late and has only missed a place twice from eleven starts beyond 2000m.
5. LE ROI – D Oliver (9)
Held his ground first up in the run home behind impressive winner Kenjorwood when fifth (8.2 lengths) in an Open class race over 1700m. Ran out a comfortable winner second up last prep, defeating Stipulate and Banco Mo over a mile at Moonee Valley and his trainer Tony McEvoy had great success last year when targeting the Country Cups. Has firmed in early betting from $9.50 to $7.50
6. AT FIRST SIGHT – B Rawiller (5) 56.5kgs
Former import who made a good impression in his first Australian preparation where he ran second in the G3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) and second again in the Bendigo Cup (2400m) back in 2011. Unfortunately we’ve only seen him once since that campaign, and that a fortnight ago where he finished eighth of eleven behind Another Prelate at the Valley over an unsuitable 1500m when. Dropping 2.5kgs on that run and the stepping up 2000m are pluses but might need another run yet after such a long layoff.
7. MORE THAN SACRED – G Boss (11) 54kgs
A Group 3 winning New Zealand galloper who had her first start for Australian trainer Robert Smerdon in BM 90 (2000m) a fortnight ago, finishing a pleasing fourth (2.5 lengths) behind Longeron. She was let slide forward four deep from the second half of the field as they passed the 800m and led the field, under 60.5kgs, into the straight so it was no surprise to see him knock up late. Drops 6.5kgs on that run which will have her well prepared for this race, one the stable picked out some time ago.
8. YOU THINK SO – (7) 54kgs
We haven’t seen this now 7yo since he ran fifth (2.7 lengths) third up from a break in last December’s Listed Werribee Cup (2600m) behind Pelicano. Dour type whose last three wins have been at 2500m and beyond and likely to need will need this hit-out and something longer again.
9. EXTRA ZERO – (6) 54kgs – SCRATCHED
Surprised most when he resumed from a six moth spell with a very good third over 1400m in the Listed Sofitel Stakes, closing well from midfield, before backing that up at his most recent run, with another third placing behind Kenjorwood in an Open class race over 1700m. Chased the winner gamely in the straight and the 2000m third up is ideal however, it’s been a long time now since his last win – 2012’s Albury Cup, and judging by his eight minor placings since then, may have forgotten how to.
10. OMINUS – D Dunn (15) 54kgs
His three starts this campaign, combined with the widest draw, suggest he’ll struggle here. The Nigel Blackiston gelding has finished a long last in each of his last two starts, an Open class race at Flemington and most recently, the JRA Cup where he failed to pass a horse after settling last.
11. ALI VITAL – D Gauci (4) 54kgs
He steadily lost ground from his position in the run to finish second to last in the Listed Sofitel Stakes (1400m) when resuming from a three month break before being to Coleraine for his following and only start since. He draw the inside gate in the field of seven that contested the Open handicap (1800m) and had his chance in the run but fall a head short. Needs it easier than this.
12. COUNT ENCOSTA – (2)
Hasn’t been far away in each of his recent starts but is starting to burn a hole in punters’ pockets. He’s started favourite three of his last five runs but has only been successful on one of those occasions, scoring a narrow win over Bachelor Royal in a 2040m race at Moonee Valley. Ran second to Mulaqen and was then tightened for room when fifth (2.8 lengths) behind Longeron in a BM 90 (2000m) in his last two starts. Drawn to get a cheap run throughout but it’s been a long while since he has won, or even placed, in a race such as this.
13. FIRST COURSE – J Beriman (14)
The 6yo by Snitzel has struggled to see out trips shorter than this at his past three starts after setting the tempo in front. Given that he is stepping up in class, and from seven races at 2000m has only won placing to his name, it’s hard to see him figuring at all in the finish.
14. PRETTY BLONDE – SCRATCHED
She was promoted to winner of August’s Darwin Cup after the initial victor was subsequently disqualified before two months later, venturing to Victoria for an Open class race over 1700m. As she has done here, the High Rolling mare drew wide and settled at the tail of the field from where she only marginally improved her position to run twelfth, over sixteen lengths from Kenjorwood. Can’t win this off of that run.
15. ROWLAND – (1)
Won the sixth start of his long career back in July with a comprehensive win in BM 90 (2425m) at Caulfield but in three subsequent runs, the Robbie Laing trained galloper has finished out of the placings a long way from the winner – in easier races than this one. Will rightly start a big price here.
Going with Mr. O’Ceirin her in a competitive race. Fourth up, 2000m from a good draw, are perfect for him and although he has been assigned 59.5kgs, in relation to his main dangers, it’s not a bad weight given his WFA performances in Queensland – over similar distances to this, earlier in the year. Cautious of More Than Sacred and At First Sight here with both capable of sharp improvement after one run back from a spell now that they get out to 2000m. Both should settle of the speed which will be solid enough given the big field.
- MR. O’CEIRIN
- LE ROI