James McDonald will be hoping for a quick return...
This afternoon a class line-up of provincial stayers will face off in the 2014 Warrnambool Cup where the clear favourite is in-form Ballarat-based galloper Akzar.
A capacity field of 16 runners is set to contest this year’s $200,000 Listed Sungold Milk Warrnambool Cup (2350m), the first emergency St Jean coming in for the scratched #14 Supremacy.
It is the Darren Weir-trained Selkirk seven-year-old Akzar who is topping the Warrnambool Cup odds though, the evergreen veteran paying $3.50 to post their fourth win from their past six starts.
After a trio of wins in Melbourne from January to early March, Akzar then ran second at Flemington over 2000m on April 5 before stepping up to Group company for the first time in Australia.
The Irish import was runner-up in the 2010 Ballyroan Stakes in their European swansong four years ago but had been kept to the lower class races by previous trainers Robert Hickmott and RJ Blacker.
They have been with Weir since the summer and have been on the improve, including their second to Our Voodoo Prince in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on April 19 when blocked for a run.
They ran in last year’s Warrnambool Cup but could only manage to finish a distant 13th behind Banca Mo, an effort the bookies believe they will atone for here.
Second pick in Warrnambool Cup betting at $6 is then Weir’s other runner, Reset seven-year-old Shiny Buttons.
The gelding firmed in the markets for the Cup on Tuesday with their big four and a half length win in the Warrnambool Handicap (1700m) that was run on a Heavy (10).
In the Warrnambool Handicap Shiny Buttons, ridden by Brad Rawiller, carried 57kg to victory.
Rawiller is replaced today by Daniel Stackhouse who will ride the in-form galloper on the 54kg minimum, the weight advantage to help the known wet tracker cope with the short back-up.
The other single figure chances are then Westsouthwest ($7.50), St Jean ($7.50) and the reigning Warrnambool Cup winner Banca Mo ($9).
The Robert Smerdon-trained Darci Brahma five-year-old Westsouthwest is another last start winner in the mix having won over 2400m at Caulfield on April 12, the proven stayer to thrive over this distance today.
Local Teofilo four-year-old St Jean for Aaron Purcell has also firmed in the markets after making the starting line-up, the Irish import racing down under for just the fourth time.
Fourth in last year’s Ballyroan Stakes behind Ernest Hemingway they won over 2044m here two back before their last start second over 2000m at Caulfield a fortnight ago.
The David & Scott Brunton-trained Tough Speed six-year-old Banco Mo then is looking for successive Warrnambool Cup wins going up to the 59.5kg top weight for this year’s edition.
Check out the full Warrnambool Cup odds below, fixed win prices you can lock in online now at Ladbrokes.com.au!
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