Patrick Payne’s Victorian visitor Fieldmaster is gearing up for a big run in today’s 2013 Devonport Cup, one of the first major lead-up races of the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival, the six-year-old resuming off a lengthy seven month spell.
Black Minnaloushe gelding Fieldmaster is one of 14 stayers making up the field for this year’s $100,000 Simons Design Centre Devonport Cup (1880m) which is due to run as Devonport Race 8 at 4:42pm this afternoon.
A major preparatory race for gallopers heading towards some of the carnival’s more lucrative staying features including the AAMI Hobart and Launceston Cups the Devonport Cup is shaping up as a super showdown in 2013.
Heading the field and the early Devonport Cup odds is Mick Burles’ in-form stable star and recent Tasmanian Stakes champ The Cleaner.
Occupying the second line of Devonport Cup betting is then Fieldmaster who has drawn well with barrier two, experienced hoop Steven Arnold to ride them on the 56.5kg second top-weight behind only The Cleaner (60kg).
A winner of six of their 25 career starts to date Fieldmaster has previously enjoyed success in the Apple Isle having won the Jockey Club Cup (2100m) in Hobart last February which was their most recent turf triumph.
After their second-up win in last year’s Jockey Club Cup Fieldmaster went on to run a credible fifth in the Hobart Cup when beaten less than two lengths by Geegees Blackflash.
They also enjoyed a minor placing in the Launceston Cup when third to Prevailing, ridden by Michelle Payne for their summer campaign 12 months ago.
After a disappointing winter at home Fieldmaster has spent the last seven months in the paddock, their last appearance being a distant 12th when beaten over 28 lengths in a 2100m race at Sandown on June 2.
While their recent record leaves a lot to be desired Plumpton-based Payne is confident the horse can return to their former glory especially looking at their nice ability to travel and their solid first-up record.
“Fieldmaster’s a bit of a tricky, cunning sort of a horse and he seems to go best when you travel him,” Payne said.
“He’s got a pretty good first up record and I thought this would be a suitable first-up race for him.”
Like the majority of this field Fieldmaster is again being set on the big Tassie cups path with both the $225,000 Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m) on February 10 and the $225,000 Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) on the 27th on the agenda should they turn up today.
“The idea was to send him over there a few days before the Devonport Cup and then after the race he’ll head to the beach and get ready for the Hobart and Launceston Cups,” Payne said.
His fitness levels are pretty good, he’s had a good foundation but we still hope that he’ll be peaking more towards Hobart and Launceston.”
While confident Fieldmaster, who has had four trials in the lead-up including a last start win over 1300m by 3.5 lengths at Pakenham on December 18, is in the right race Payne’s only concern is the synthetic Tapeta surface at Devonport which they are yet to run over under race conditions.
“My main concern is with him racing on the Tapeta surface for the first time,” he said.
“He was trained on that track when he was being prepared for the Hobart and Launceston Cups last year and he used to work pretty well on it but whether he can handle the kick-back and handle it under race conditions remains to be seen.”
The other obvious concern is then the favourite, Payne accepting that the challenge to defeat The Cleaner is a big one.
“The Cleaner should set a genuine tempo up front which could help Fieldmaster but he’s also a bloody hard horse to get past,” he said.
“You’ve got to respect him and on his day he’s certainly a pretty handy horse.”
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