Wagga Gold Cup winner Voice Commander looks on-song to step up to 2400m and win their fourth on the trot this weekend when racing returns to Rosehill Gardens.
Hosting their first meeting since the coveted AAMI Golden Slipper Day in early April, Rosehill will be home to the $100,000 Listed WJ McKell Cup (2400m) this Saturday, with the Nick Olive-trained Voice Commander leading the 12-horse field for the feature.
The in-form Commands gelding from Canberra has been burning through the ranks since Olive stepped them up to 2000m for the first time in January when Voice Commander won the Listed Frank Underwood Cup (200m) at Rosehill by an easy two and a half lengths over Bid Spotter.
Last month the rising seven-year-old recorded another smart victory in the Gundagai Cup (1800m) and is yet to be beaten since.
Next start Voice Commander showed good staying potential again with a mighty four length win in the Queanbeyan Cup (2000m) before their gritty last-stride success in the Listed Wagga Gold Cup (2000m) on May 6.
“He has pulled up terrific after the Wagga Cup,” Olive said.
“I couldn’t believe how well he pulled up.
“He is an amazing horse.
“Winning the Wagga Cup was a great thrill and I thought he would be a bit jaded after the run because he really left nothing out there.
“But he’s probably done better since that run than any after any other run this campaign.”
On Saturday Voice Commander is ready to increase the distance again and is getting plenty of love from the punters to win the WJ McKell Cup after drawing well with barrier three.
“I reckon he’s going as good as ever, he’s probably evolved as a horse and I think we’ve evolved with him in how we train him,” Olive said.
“We’re training him as an out and out stayer now whereas before he was kept to shorter races and I didn’t think he would get past a mile.
“I’m actually really looking forward to seeing him over 2400 metres now because I think he’ll love it.”
Voice Commander is allocated the 58.5kg top-weight for the WJ McKell Cup, which is a three kilo increase from their weight in the Wagga Cup.
“He’s carrying two kilograms more than anything else but has shown before that he can carry weight,” Olive said.
In the Queanbeyan Cup Voice Commander lumped a hefty 63.5kg and before that 63kg to victory in the Gundagai Cup, so he should have little issue on Saturday.
“It’s a test but it doesn’t scare me out of running him,” Olive said.
There are two other last-start winners in the WJ McKell Cup field this year with the Keith Opie-trained Kiwi Indikator out wide in barrier 12 and coming off an emphatic five length win in the Group 3 Rotorua Cup (2200m) in New Zealand, and Gai Waterhouse’s Savabeel four-year-old Tullamore in gate 11 seeking their third straight after a tidy win over 2200m at Scone last Saturday.
Waterhouse is looking towards the spring and a Melbourne Cup campaign with Tullamore after the improving stayer’s success at Scone.
“He’s a really exciting stayer,” Waterhouse said of Tullamore.
“He’ll go to the McKell Cup and then the Brisbane Cup and then we’ll spell him and get him ready for the Melbourne Cup in the spring.”
The Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) runs at Eagle Farm on June 11, Stradbroke Handicap Day.
Other notable acceptors looking to score a Cup win at Rosehill on Saturday include the Chris Waller-trained duo of Beijing Boy (barrier eight), fourth in the Wagga Gold Cup, and Flying Spur mare Vintedge (barrier 10).
2011 WJ McKell Cup Final Field & Barriers
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||0231547111||VOICE COMMANDER||Nick Olive||Ms Kathy O’Hara||3||58.5kg||102|
|2||07774X7211||INDIKATOR (NZ)||Keith Opie||Jay Ford||12||56.5kg||98|
|3||8349000X00||NEWPORT||Paul Perry||Taylor Lovelock-Wiggins (a)||6||56.5kg||98|
|4||2211625924||BEIJING BOY (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||8||55kg||95|
|5||1144811712||ROI D’JEU (NZ)||Craig Ritchie||–||4||53.5kg||92|
|6||1747X95335||VINTEDGE||Chris Waller||Christian Reith||10||53kg||91|
|7||X303345553||IRONSTEIN||Gerald Ryan||Josh Adams (a)||5||53kg||89|
|8||111X063626||SKYERUSH||Guy Walter||Nathan Berry||7||53kg||87|
|9||6X42212211||TULLAMORE (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||11||53kg||84|
|10||6493X5X117||SHERPA TENZING (NZ)||Jim Conlan||Daniel Ganderton||2||53kg||81|
|11||30X2766503||BRIDE SALAMA||Anthony Cummings||–||1||53kg||70|
|12||6344X89743||CARSKI DRUM||Mike Petrovic||Adam Hyeronimus (a)||9||53kg||64|