A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
On Saturday Fred Kersley’s grand old galloper Grand Nirvana will aim for an historical treble, the dual Roma Cup champion shooting for a third win in the Belmont Park classic.
Now a rising nine-year-old, the son of Scenic lines up for their 48th career start this weekend in the $125,000 Group 3 Del Basso Smallgoods Roma Cup (1200m) looking to add to the $1,146,525 in prize money they have won for connections over the years.
It is a Perth sprint they have also won twice before having beaten them home in 2009 and 2011 when ridden by Daniel Staeck.
This year they are looking to do what no horse has done before them and become a triple Roma Cup winner with an upset first-up.
The oldest horse set to line-up in the Roma Cup field, Grand Nirvana hasn’t raced since their sixth behind Conservatorium in the Group 3 AJ Scahill Stakes (1400m) at Ascot back on December 7.
Kersley is hoping the five month spell has served them well and the old champ can return to form when resuming but knows it’s a big ask.
“He is an older horse now and he would need to be in his best form to be competitive,” Kersley told The West Australian.
“With his rating there are really only the weight-for-age races like the Roma Cup on the agenda.”
A long time has passed between drinks for Grand Nirvana however as they haven’t won since their 2011 AJ Scahill success three years ago, and has only run top three twice in their past 12 starts, meaning history is against them here.
They have had two lead-up trials this season, most recently crossing fourth behind Military Secret in a 1000m hitout at Belmont on May 12 when ridden by Steven Parnham.
Grand Nirvana raced without blinkers in the Scahill during last year’s Perth Summer Racing Carnival but worked with them on yesterday.
Parnham meanwhile stays on for their run on Saturday.
It will be Parnham’s first ride on Grand Nirvana under race conditions since they crossed in a dead heat for second with Rosie Rocket in the Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) back in June of 2012.
That race was won by Luckygray, Trevor Andrews’ multiple Group 1 winning local the one to beat in this weekend’s Roma Cup.
Following the Cup the bulk of the field will back-up in the traditional follow-up, the $125,000 Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) on May 31.
That’s another race Grand Nirvana boasts two wins in having taken it out in 2010 and 2011.
The 2014 Roma Cup field and barriers will be out on Wednesday morning and published here at Races.com.au so stay tuned.
Our number one recommended and trusted bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au will then be releasing the top odds on the showdown so make sure you have an account open with them today to get in on the action!
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