Recently inducted Hall Of Fame trainer Chris...
Warwick Farm trainer Joe Pride is hoping Saturday will be the day his always honest galloper Neeson scores that elusive Group 1 victory when they take on a BTC Cup 2012 field absent of the likes of Black Caviar and Hay List.
This year’s $400,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) has drawn 15 acceptors, and while there are a number of Group 1 performers it lacks the class of 12 months ago when Black Caviar and Hay List ran the quinella.
By far the rank horse on Saturday is last year’s third placegetter Buffering, Rob Heathcote’s hopeful coming off a seven length victory at Eagle Farm from last week.
While Buffering has drawn wide in gate 14 they have retained their spot at the top of the BTC Cup odds at an easing quote of $2.60 through bookmaker.com.au.
Neeson meanwhile is co $7.50 second pick in the BTC Cup betting markets along with John O’Shea’s promising young filly Sea Siren who will be out to stake her 2012 Stradbroke Handicap claims.
Drawn in gate nine with Corey Brown riding five-year-old Mossman gelding Neeson was last seen in the winner’s stall at Randwick back in October of last year when they scored their eighth career win in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes.
They have been thereabouts this season running top four in their last three outings including fourth to Master Of Design when beaten only three quarters of a length in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
Their most recent run was on Sydney Cup Day on April 28, Neeson coming within a long neck of Tiger Tees when finishing third in a blanket finish for the Listed Hall Mark Stakes (1200m).
Saturday’s BTC Cup challenge will be their first run in Queensland since this time in 2009.
Neeson actually began their career in the sunshine state prepared by Ricky Maund and had their opening three starts at Eagle Farm before being transferred to Pride’s Sydney stables later that year.
Buffering is going to take some beating this weekend even from their awkward draw but Pride believes Neeson has what it takes to give the favourite a scare.
“He (Neeson) and Buffering are similar styles of horses,” Pride said.
“They’ve been thereabouts in Group Ones without winning.
“I think one of them will win the race on Saturday so luck in running could well be a factor.
“It should be good, I’m looking forward to it.”
Pride will also be represented in the BTC Cup 2012 by Title, the $31 outsider drawn in barrier six with Glen Colless riding.
Winner of the Listed McCarten Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill two back, Honours List five-year-old Title was last seen running a brave fourth when beaten one and a quarter lengths by Temple Of Boom in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Randwick on April 21.
Tony Golan’s The Galaxy winner Temple Of Boom will also back up in the BTC Cup seeking successive Group 1 victories, the $13 chance drawn in the extreme outside barrier 15 of 15.
While the firming Doomben track will work in Neeson’s favour Title really needs a bit of give in the ground according to Pride.
“The track drying out is not in Title’s favour but it won’t worry Neeson,” Pride said.
“I’m pleased with both horses.
“I think they’ve had ideal preparations for the race and as I said, I’m pleased with them and their preparations.
“I do think Title’s chances would be better if we got a wet track but Neeson’s pretty versatile and the races he’s come out of in Sydney are certainly strong enough to give him a chance on Saturday.”
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