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Lark Hill horseman David Harrison is hoping the predicted rain on Friday afternoon hits Belmont Park Racecourse tomorrow ahead of the 2014 Roma Cup where his galloper Settle Strada will appreciate the give out of the track.
Belmont is currently rated in the Good range but with a 40% chance of decent rainfall predicted over the next 24 – 48 hours that could see a downgrade occur before Saturday’s $125,000 Group 3 Del Basso Smallgoods Roma Cup (1200m).
A field of 12 sprinters is set to face off in the feature this year with two gallopers battling for top spot in the Roma Cup odds.
Current favourite is the widely-drawn Magnifisio ($2.70), Jim Taylor’s ultra-consistent Magnus mare after her fifth consecutive win.
She was last seen taking out the Listed Northam Toyota Stakes (1100m) on May 4, the four-year-old first run since the Summer Scorcer victory at Ascot on New Year’s Day.
Hot on her tails is then triple Group 1 winner Luckygray ($2.80).
Drawn on the rails in barrier one with Shaun O’Donnell booked for the prized ride, Bradbury’s Luck six-year-old Luckygray resumes in the Roma Cup with the dual Railway Stakes champ having been beaten into fifth last time out in the Group 2 CB Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot in December.
Further down the markets at double figures punters can find Belmont specialist, Strada five-year-old Settle Strada who pays around $14 to score a Roma Cup upset at a track they’ve won eight of their 10 starts on.
While they’ve never seen a Heavy-rated track they have won their only start on Slow ground and have also run top two, including three wins, on their five starts on Dead tracks.
“I would like some rain because he also likes the sting out of the track,” Harrison told The West Australian.
Their record at Belmont though is outstanding including a four straight succession last year with wins in the Beaufine Stakes, HG Bolton Sprint, Belmont Newmarket and concluding in the WA Goodwood Sprint.
They’ve been hit and miss since the Goodwood on August 24 however including a dead last behind Conservatorium in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) last November.
Settle Strada resumed in the Toyota Stakes and ran four lengths away fifth to Saturday’s favourite Magnifisio meaning they’re going to have to do some serious improving to turn the tables this weekend, but Harrison is hoping they can do that returning to Belmont.
“It was an OK run first-up and he’s working good,” he said.
“The main thing is he gets back to Belmont. He loves Belmont.
“It’s a pretty hard field. It’s just a matter of whether he’s up to the class.”
Settle Strada carries 58.5kg under the weight-for-age conditions on the weekend, dropping back from the 59kg they had at Northam.
While that’s an advantage, Magnifisio will also be set to dominate going down from 57.5kg to 56.5kg.
Other notable Roma Cup hopes this year include the returning Ranger, the Neville Parnham-trained Lee Steere runner-up Checkpoint and Grant Williams’ last start La Trice Stakes winning mare Elite Belle.
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