Cranbourne trainer Mark Webb will be shaking his head after his Reset mare Avienus suffered an early blow to her Easter Cup claims coming up with barrier 14 of 17 for this Saturday’s showdown at Caulfield.
Five-year-old Avienus was one of 17 horses, 16 starters plus one emergency, accepted for this year’s $125,000 Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m).
Earlier in the week Webb expressed hopes that Avienus would get some luck in the Easter Cup barrier draw after failing to place in her five starts this season.
In three of her five runs this prep Avienus has been dealt a double-digit gate, one of the reasons accounting for why she has failed to produce the same promising form she did during the spring.
“I don’t think she’s going quite as well as she was in the spring for some reason. I can’t really put a finger on it,” Webb said.
“But in saying that she has had a nice run of performances, just without luck from bad barriers which have cost her from either winning or placing.
“She’s been unlucky in that she’s drawn a lot of wide barriers throughout her career.”
After winning the Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last September, Avienus enjoyed a number of other eye-catching spring starts including her sixth, beaten less than two lengths by More Joyous, in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) and her credible sixth to superstar So You Think in the premier weight-for-age showdown on the calendar, the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Last start Avienus was beaten just over a length when fifth to Vivid Vixen in an 1800m handicap at Caulfield on April 9.
Webb saw something in this run that hinted at improvement to come from his mare.
“Her run was good with no luck, her work has been great,” Webb said.
“The Easter Cup is certainly a good race and with the weight (54kg) I’m certainly looking forward to it.”
On Saturday Avienus and jockey Steven King face a tough test as they jump from barrier 14 in what looks to be a quality Easter Cup field.
The big winner in the Easter Cup barrier draw was Mark Kavanagh’s Shamoline Warrior drawn on the rails in alley one and due to be ridden by apprentice jockey Billy Eagan.
A stakes winner during the spring, the four-year-old son of Shamardal showed potential again last start when third to Vivid Vixen at Caulfield, Shamoline Warrior having had a number of set-backs throughout their career.
“Shamoline Warrior is only a young, lightly-raced horse and hopefully he can win the Easter Cup and come back for the Cups,” assistant trainer Merv Harvey said.
“All he needs is a bit of luck now.”
Other in-form gallopers that have genuine claims for the 2011 Easter Cup include the Mick Price-trained Galileo four-year-old Spacecraft and Lee Freedman’s defending Easter Cup winner Fanjura who both came up with favourable draws set to start from barriers three and four respectively.
Also among the challengers to take out the Easter Cup trophy are last-start winners Paddy O’Reilly (barrier five) who won the Albury Cup over 2000m on March 25 and Lloyd Williams’ Encosta De Lago four-year-old Niblick (barrier 12).
Peter Moody’s former Macau champion Luen Yat Forever is the 58kg topweight of the field.
The most notable defector from the Easter Cup following nominations was promising Victorian galloper Flat Chat, the John Sadler-trained gelding not paid up for despite showing good form in winning the National Jockeys Trust Handicap (1600m) at Flemington last weekend which was the five-year-old’s fourth successive victory.
The Easter Cup is one of two Group features running at Caulfield on Easter Saturday along with the $125,000 Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m).
2011 Le Pine Funterals Easter Cup Final Field & Barrier Draw
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||X4045X8929||LUEN YAT FOREVER||Peter G Moody||Steven Arnold||6||58kg||103|
|2||1118X46373||SPACECRAFT||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||3||57.5kg||102|
|3||1X2754X342||FANJURA (IRE)||Lee Freedman||Noel Callow||4||56.5kg||100|
|4||2X211X2126||LAUNAY||Peter Snowden||Mark Zahra||8||56.5kg||100|
|5||00402X0562||FIELD HUNTER||Darren Weir||Ben Melham||16||56kg||99|
|6||6512266010||WIND SHEAR||Dale Sutton||Stephen Baster||7||55.5kg||98|
|7||57X41163X0||ZOOMIN (NZ)||Michael Kent||Dean Yendall||13||55.5kg||98|
|8||25413X8341||PADDY O’REILLY (NZ)||Robert Smerdon||–||5||54.5kg||95|
|9||1666X09855||AVIENUS||Mark Webb||Steven King||14||54kg||99|
|10||X0708X5820||EXTRA ZERO||David Hayes||James Winks||2||54kg||93|
|11||24112X0824||KUTCHINSKY||Tony Noonan||Jake Noonan (a)||15||54kg||93|
|12||211X0X9803||SHAMOLINE WARRIOR||Mark Kavanagh||Billy Egan (a)||1||54kg||93|
|13||141113X291||NIBLICK||Robert Hickmott||Michael Walker||12||53.5kg||92|
|15||1932X70252||DE FINE LAGO||Tony Vasil||–||9||53.5kg||88|
|16||143X927840||ABITOFADO (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Ms Lisa Cropp||17||53.5kg||87|
|17e||23X8143401||STOLE (NZ)||Brian Jenkins||–||10||53.5kg||85|