Grafton Cup Within Warrior’s Reach

Gold Coast galloper Warrior Within is likely to back up from their last start Murwillumbah Cup win by contesting next month’s Grafton Cup according to their trainer Bruce Hill.

Set to run on July 14, the $160,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2300m) is already a possibility for this weekend’s Caloundra Cup competitor Gold In Dubai, but another horse that could be vying for multiple Cup victories in the New South Wales feature is King Cugat five-year-old Warrior Within.

Following a number of unplaced runs during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, including their 12th to Tullamore in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm, Warrior Within headed to Ipswich.

A wide barrier 14 draw, however, hampered the stayer’s chances and Warrior Within could only manage to finish seven lengths away sixth to winner Gold In Dubai in the $200,000 Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) on June 18.

Last Sunday Warrior Within enjoyed a step back in class and was able to score an explosive five and a half length win in the $28,000 Murwillumbah Cup (2000m), their eighth career success from 43 starts.

“He deserved to win and he has been drawing bad alleys week-in, week-out,” Hill said.

“I thought he was going to be hard to beat from where he was because he had been getting that far back in his races.”

Now Hill is eyeing off the Grafton Cup prize with Warrior Within, hoping they can show the same good form that saw them enter the winner’s stall for the first time since taking out the 2010 Murwillumbah Cup Prelude.

Although bypassing last year’s Murwillumbah Cup, Warrior Within did contest the Ipswich Cup finishing a brave third to Our Lukas after being blocked for a run.

At their next start they ran a disappointing 16th to 2010 Caloundra Cup winner Ironstein, before placing a credible fifth to Twin Wing in the Grafton Cup.

Hill is hopeful Warrior Within can improve on their fifth place finish 12 months ago and race competitively in their second Grafton Cup assignment.

“He ran fifth in the Grafton Cup last year and he is going better this year, so I’m pretty sure we will go there,” Hill said.

“I bought him for $60,000 and he has been a nice horse for us.”

To date Warrior Within has won a total of $106,500 in prize money for his connections, which Hill is confident the gelding can add to over the coming season.

Another who is confident Warrior Within has more ability than his record shows is the horse’s regular rider Pat Hammersley, aboard for the Murwillumbah Cup win on the weekend.

“We had a bit of a hairy moment at the half mile but once he got out in the open he let down well,” Hammersley said of the winning run.

“I was following Run For Layla and I thought I had it beat and if anything can run me down from behind they will have to be going really well.”

Another Gold Coast-trained horse that could be heading towards a Grafton Cup start is last Saturday’s $100,000 Listed Tattersall’s Mile (1600m) winner Frozone.

Prepared by Alan Bailey, the Reset five-year-old was impressive in beating home Devils Arcade by three quarters of a length in the Eagle Farm feature and connections are now considering a Grafton Cup start for the $300,000 earner.

Frozone finished a devastatingly close second in last year’s Grafton Cup on the back of a sixth place Tatt’s Cup effort, but Bailey still has queries over their ability to run a strong 2300 metres.

“I’ll wait and see,” he said.

“I am half-thinking to take him (to the Grafton Cup), but I’m just not sure if he’ll run the distance.

“He had the Cup won last year and wilted and it was much the same story in the Ipswich Cup (Frozone finishing second to Our Lukas in 2010).

“I’m just not sure he runs the ground.

“That’s why I’ve kept him back and gone a bit quietly with him.”