Mudgee-based trainer Tracey Bartley will vie for back-to-back wins in the Wauchope Cup at Port Macquarie this Sunday with defending champion Slick Sniper, a full-brother to star stablemate and triple Group 1 winner Sniper’s Bullet.
Bartley enjoyed a win with Bite The Bullet gelding Slick Sniper 12 months ago, the galloper nominated again this year for the $22,000 Wauchope Cup (1518m) along with his half-sister, last-start winning mare General’s Sniper.
General Nediym four-year-old General’s Sniper comes off a win in the Hyland Race Colours BM70 (1550m) at a badly rain-affected Canterbury track on June 1, while Slick Sniper’s last win came over 1550m at Randwick back on April 25.
“I thought she could win at Scone a couple of starts ago (when sixth to Romanus on May 13), but she couldn’t get to the lead,” Bartley said of General’s Sniper.
“She’s not a chaser, she needs to roll up on the speed.
“He (apprentice jockey Adam Hyeronimus) rode her really nicely last start.”
Six-year-old Slick Sniper has had three runs since his Randwick win failing to finish in the money in all three, including his most recent effort when six lengths away ninth to Irish Love in the Woodford Reserve Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill on June 4.
He did, however, show nice form when fourth to Dysphonia in the Listed Scone Cup (1600m) on May 13.
“It was a very good run in the Scone Cup,” Bartley said.
It is not the form of Slick Sniper that has Bartley worried however, the galloper having finished 12th in the Scone Cup at their last run before their 2010 Wauchope Cup win by an impressive three and a half lengths, but what weight they will be allocated for this Sunday.
Carting 58.5kg to victory last year, Bartley is concerned Slick Sniper will be weighted out of contention this weekend, especially with the heavy rainfall at the course over the week.
“I hope everything goes well and the raceday goes ahead,” Bartley said.
Although nominated for the Wauchope Cup, Generals’ Sniper is more likely to run at Rosehill on Saturday having also been entered for the $70,000 Benchmark 80 Handicap (1400m) there.
As a precaution, Bartley also has Slick Sniper nominated for a separate Benchmark 80 Handicap over 1800m at Rosehill on Saturday, but has the Wauchope Cup as Plan A the following day.
“At this stage, Slick (Sniper) will be going to the Wauchope Cup and General’s Sniper will run in the race in town,” Bartley said on Wednesday.
“I’m not sure if Slick runs 1800 metres on those heavy tracks.
“On the dry it’s no problem but it becomes more like a 2000 metre race on the heavy.”
Bartley travelled back to Sydney from Brisbane on Tuesday having been up in the sunshine state for the winter carnival with stable ace Sniper’s Bullet.
The rising eight-year-old is coming close to retirement, Sniper’s Bullet failing to add a fourth Group 1 win to add to their elite level triple.
Winner of the 2009 Group 1 Railway Stakes – Kingston Town Classic, Sniper’s Bullet breakthrough Group 1 win came in the 2009 Stradbroke Handicap.
At this year’s Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival they had three runs finishing dead last behind superstar Black Caviar in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on May 14, fifth to Peter Snowden’s mare Beaded in the Group 1Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28 and then last Saturday failing to come within seven lengths of runaway winner Sincero in the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm.
Bartley reported that Sniper’s Bullet pulled up very well after the Stradbroke Handicap and connections were now facing the decision of whether to give the old warhorse one more run for the season.
“He didn’t have a lot of luck in the Stradbroke,” Bartley said.
“Michael Rodd (jockey) was very happy with him and we’re in two minds whether to run him here (in Sydney) in the Winter Stakes.
“I need to speak to the handicapper about what weight he’ll get, although it’s a quality so he’ll probably get the topweight.
“There is a big chance he’ll run in that.”
The Listed Winter Stakes (1500m) runs at Rosehill on July 15, following which Sniper’s Bullet is likely to contest his fourth and final Perth Summer Racing Carnival before heading off to serve at stud.
Other notable Wauchope Cup nominees for this year include the Wayne Wilkes-trained trio of Class Of Clowns, Eishin Rock and Well Satisfied.
Wilkes prepared last year’s Wauchope Cup fourth placegetter Mr Armstrong, the local trainer hoping one of their stablemates can go one better and finish in the money on Sunday.
Show A Heart four-year-old Class Of Clowns looks Wilkes’ strongest contender for this weekend, the gelding second-up for the season after a game third behind Clan McClymont in the Gloucester Cup (1267m) last month.
“He didn’t really handle the heavy ground but he gets through it okay,” Wilkes said of Class Of Clowns who came from last in the Gloucester Cup to place a fast-finishing third.