At double figures in the markets, Kiwi-bred trainer Craig Ritchie believes his veteran galloper Solid Billing is a juicy pick for the 2011 Christmas Cup at Rosehill this weekend, the seven-year-old set for a showing over the 2400 metres of the black-type clash.
One of 11 gallopers still engaged for the $100,000 Listed Christmas Cup (2400m), running as Rosehill Race 6 at 4:25pm (local time) following the early withdrawal of #3 Scouting Wide, Rock Of Gibraltar gelding Solid Billing is rated an $18 chance in the Luxbet markets.
Equal 58kg topweight of the field along with Chris Waller’s fellow seven-year-old stayer Strike One ($9 Luxbet), Solid Billing is due to be ridden by Jay Ford from barrier seven as they look to break a seven-race drought.
Last seen in the winner’s stall in New Zealand at Ellerslie over 2200 metres on March 5, Solid Billing’s best finish since was their close third to Stand To Gain in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on a Heavy (10) Randwick track back in April.
With rain around in Sydney and Rosehill currently rated a Slow (7), conditions are to Solid Billing’s liking with the galloper appreciating a soft track.
At their most recent run they came within two lengths of winner Zara Dancer when fifth in the Listed Frank Underwood Cup (1900m) on a Slow (7) Canterbury track and stepping up to the 2400 metres become a genuine contender at a nice price in the Luxbet markets.
“He ran a good race, I was very pleased with him and (jockey) Jay (Ford) was happy too,” Ritchie said of Solid Billing’s last start.
“The horse is ready for 2400 metres.
“He’s been terrific for the stable.”
A Christmas Cup win by Solid Billing would be the horse’s eighth career success from 44 starts, and each win is of noted importance for Ritchie who also trained their dam, Star Way mare A Star Affair.
“I trained the dam, A Star Affair, with my father and she was a quality mare,” Ritchie said.
“It is a good family in the way if you set them for races, you can get them right at the right time.”
As with most of the Christmas Cup field, Solid Billing’s main off-season aim is the $125,000 Group 3 Summer Cup (2400m) on Rosehill’s Boxing Day Racing program.
“The Summer Cup is the main go for Solid Billing this preparation but he is ready to run a good race (on Saturday),” Ritchie said.
Christmas Cup odds are currently lead by in-form Melbourne visitor Sea Galleon ($2.90) another known mudlark running the Sydney way of racing for the first time, while Frank Underwood Cup runner-up Yulalona is also well liked in the betting at a Luxbet quote of $3.80.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for our exclusive 2011 Christmas Cup form guide preview and betting tips to be published shortly.
In the meantime, get ready to back a winner this weekend by opening your online betting account with Luxbet and be instantly rewarded with a $400 bonus bet when you deposit and quote the code BONUSBET!