Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michael Rodd will return to New South Wale’s Grafton track where he enjoyed some of his earliest track successes, the ace hoop having been booked for a ride during the imminent Grafton Cup Carnival.
Kicking off on Thursday July 7, the 2011 Grafton Cup Carnival is one of the leading off-season features in New South Wales featuring five top-class meetings offering an incredible $875,000 in prize money.
Before Rodd became one of the country’s premier and most sought after jockeys, during his early twenties he was a prominent rider at Grafton.
Rodd, 29, has now ridden 20 Group 1 winners to victory including 2007 Melbourne Cup champion Efficient.
But the hoop also has a nice history at Grafton, taking out the 2004 Grafton Cup as a 22-year-old aboard Pacific Dancer.
Gold Coast-based trainer Toby Edmonds has secured an early engagement for Rodd to ride his promising three-year-old Testa Rossa gelding Emvoss this Grafton Cup Carnival.
A winner of two of their three starts to date, having suffered their first loss last Saturday when three and a half lengths away fourth to winner Belltone in a 1200m event on the Gold Coast, Emvoss is set to contest the $40,000 Grafton Guineas (1600m) on July 13 with Rodd aboard.
Rodd is also hoping to find a ride in the $130,000 WHK Ramornie Handicap on July 13 and the feature event at the Carnival, the $150,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 14.
One runner that is heading towards a spot in this year’s Grafton Cup field is the John Marzon-trained More Than Ready four-year-old Code Word.
In blistering form this prep, Code Word has won three of their past four starts most recently blitzing their rivals when winning the $70,000 Australis Inbound Tours Handicap (2000m) at Randwick by an easy four lengths on June 11 on a rain-affected track.
Recently transferred to Marzon’s Moruya stables on the NSW South Coast, Code Word was purchased by Marzol out of the Gerald Ryan stable in April.
Marzol believes the change in environment has been the key to unlocking Code Word’s potential and will now give the galloper his chance in the Grafton Cup.
“We’ll probably head back to town for another start over 2000 metres and then tackle the Grafton Cup,” Marzol confirmed.
“It will be my first stript to a Grafton carnival and I am looking forward to it.”
From further afield comes another Grafton Cup hopeful, Argentinean import Storm Fabulador.
Prepared by Ballina horseman John Everson, four-year-old Storm Fabulador showed a nice return to form when winning their first race in 12 months and their first on Aussie turf on June 10.
Storm Fabulador, who had two starts for the famous Peter Moody stable in Melbourne before being leased by Everson from owner Ian McCauley, beat a quality field over 2118m by over a length, Everson now looking at the feature Grafton Carnival race next month.
“He’s got the makings of a good stayer,’ Everson said.
“I was thinking Grafton Cup next year, but we might have a crack at the Grafton Cup Prelude on July 7 and see what happens.”