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Former jockey turned trainer Neville Voigt is praying the muddy conditions at Royal Randwick from last weekend will be replicated for Sydney Cup Day on Saturday with his lightly-raced mudlark Riocetto stepping up to Group 1 company for the first time in the Champagne Stakes 2013.
The Oratorio two-year-old broke their maiden status on Doncaster Day in the wet relishing the Heavy (9) track to put a big five length margin between themselves and runner-up Fuerza in the Listed Fernhill Handicap (1600m) as a $20 outsider.
They will again jump at a pretty juicy price when they back up just seven days later in this weekend’s $400,000 Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) where Fernhill runner-up Fuerza will be among their rivals.
Sure to be odds-on favourite for the Champagne Stakes this year is the Peter Snowden-trained Guelph, the talented Exceed And Excel filly improving on her fourth in the Golden Slipper to score an upset win in the Group 1 Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) on April 13.
Riocetto meanwhile will be further down the markets with queries over how they will handle the step up in class and the seven-day return.
They are still a chance however based on their big effort over the track and distance last Saturday which was just their third career start, especially if the heaven’s open up again between now and then according to the optimistic Voigt.
“You never know, it might rain again like it did the other day although it doesn’t look like it at the moment,” Voigt, who won the Champagne Stakes three decades ago as a jockey when riding Lady Eclipse to victory, said.
“He’s a little horse improving and he loves the mud.
“I was very happy when it rained (last Saturday).
“It’s a big rise in company in the Champagne but we’ll have a go.”
Looking further ahead Voigt is confident Riocetto can develop into a nice Derby horse and really hit their peak over more distance next season.
“I always knew he would be better the further he went,” he said.
“He could be a nice Derby horse next year.”
The 2013 Champagne Stakes field and barriers, along with all of those for the Sydney Cup Day races, are due for release on Wednesday.
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