Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
The only thing stopping highly-spoken-of Sydney colt Smart Missile from starting odds-on favourite in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes 2011 betting for this Saturday is their awkward ‘visitor’s draw’, but despite being drawn wide the three-year-old is still the punters’ pick.
There are 17 horses making up the 2011 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes field, and despite suffering an early blow with the extreme outside gate, the Anthony Cummings-trained Smart Missile has opened favourite in the Luxbet odds at a quote of $3.40.
The son of Fastnet Rock won their opening three career starts, including a massive boilover when becoming the sole horse to date to defeat Darley-owned megastar Sepoy in March, Smart Missile suffered their first loss last-start when a no-luck run saw them finish a nose away second behind Manawanui in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill on September 10.
A noted backmarker that has proven their ability to settle of the pace before charging at the frontrunners and picking them up, Smart Missile may be in 17 but the reality is they have the racing style and class to still win.
While on paper the draw looks a horror one, Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes history suggests otherwise:
- 12 of the last 25, and eight of the past 15, Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winners jumped from gate 10 or wider
- The last to jump from the extreme outside was then 3YO Encosta de Lago (18 of 18) back in 1996
Smart Missile also advantage from having Glen Boss aboard, the ace hoop having partnered with Cummings to win the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes two years ago with Turffontein.
“I definitely think the race is within his capability but the barrier makes it a bit more interesting,” Cummings said.
“I was going to say he just needs a touch of luck, but from the draw maybe it is a ton of luck.
“At some stage I will have my heart in my mouth but hopefully it turns out well.”
The untapped short-course specialist is also out to become the sixth three-year-old Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner since 1975, joining an elite list alongside turf greats Manikato (1978), Our Maizcay (1995), Encosta de Lago (1996), Testa Rossa (1999) and Exceed And Excel (2003); Smart Missile the sole three-year-old in this year’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
Cummings had the opportunity to hand Smart Missile a slightly easier assignment taking on his own age in the $175,000 Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) at the same meeting on Saturday, but after the sensational Golden Rose loss, the elite level called out to connections.
“Group Ones are always more attractive, there’s the prize money and it’s a handicap,” Cummings explained.
“For him, at this stage of his career, it’s probably going to be the last time he’ll be able to do that, certainly if he lives up to expectations.”
The handicap conditions of the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes will certainly work in Smart Missile’s favour on Saturday, the colt to carry just 53kg which is 4.5kg lighter than they carried to victory first-up in the Run to the Rose and 3.5kg lighter than their Golden Rose weight last-start.
The only other two single-priced hopefuls in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes odds at Luxbet are Rob Heathcote’s talented Queensland galloper Woorim ($4.60) and Peter Snowden-trained Pinwheel ($8), who are the two top-weighted gallopers.
Pinwheel is allocated 58kg and Woorim 57.5kg, meaning they give lots of weight to Smart Missile.
“Going to the three-year-old race would have only been if he needed some experience this way around (the Melbourne way) and he wasn’t going to be ready to compete against the older horses, but he’s shown himself to be quite adept the Melbourne way, his ability is unquestioned and the promise untapped,” Cummings said with confidence.
Now is the time to get behind Smart Missile if they are your Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes tip before prices firm.
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