In a boost for the Clarence River Jockey Club’s premier two day carnival, ace Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse will saddle-up two from Tulloch Lodge in next week’s Grafton Cup 2014 field.
The $150,000 Listed GDSC Grafton Cup (2350m) takes place on Thursday July 10 and is set to attract one of its classiest line-ups in years.
Headlining the possible runners then is two for Waterhouse who plans to nominate for Travolta and Queenstown.
As yet it is not 100% whether Waterhouse will pay up for one or both of the horses, the decision to be made before final acceptance stage.
“They will both be nominated,” Waterhouse’s racing manager Adrian Bott told The Daily Examiner.
“Both horses are back in the Sydney stable and pulled up well after their last start.”
Handsome Ransom five-year-old Travolta has won six of their 29 starts to date, and were given a one-run New Zealand campaign across the Tasman this autumn.
On the back of a Listed Torney Cup (2500m) third at Moonee Valley in February they went to Ellerslie for the $450,000 Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) and were far from disgraced when fourth behind Who Shot Thebarman.
Back down under their latest run was at Eagle Farm on June 21 when dropped back down to a mile in the Listed Centenary Classic Mercedes Benz Open Mile (1600m) where, carrying a hefty 60kg they could only manage to run seventh behind Kingdoms.
Improvement though is expected if they accept for the Grafton Cup with the step back up to just under a mile and a half to suit.
“Travolta turned in a pleasing first up run over a distance short of his best and will appreciate the step up in distance of the Grafton Cup,” Bott said.
Queenstown meanwhile is a progressive four-year-old Stratum mare who has run top three in 12 of her 15 starts.
Her latest win was at Moonee Valley over 2040m back in October last year, but she’s been well placed in her subsequent four runs including a Group 2 second at Flemington over 2000m on Emirates Stakes Day and her Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) third to Sertorius in November.
Sertorius franked that form too during the autumn going on to run third to now 2014 Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
This season Queenstown has had two runs, the last also being in Brisbane’s Open Mile when two and a half off the winner in fifth.
“Queenstown was in the same race [as Travolta] and didn’t have the best of luck,” Bott said.
“She will also appreciate the step up in distance.”
Sydney’s premiership winning trainer Chris Waller meanwhile is also set to have a Grafton Cup runner this year.
He will nominate for at least one of his stayers with possible nominees being five-year-old Secessio, Lonhro gelding Hoylonny or imported Haafhad six-year-old Mulaqen who ran the Winter Cup trifecta at Rosehill last Saturday.
Other confirmed Grafton Cup horses this year then include Murwillumba Cup winner Going Venture, Gerald Ryan’s veteran Zabeel galloper Ironstein in their likely swansong race, the Brian Smith-trained Grey Assignment and Tony Gollan’s Ipswich Cup winner Brave Ali who was second in the Caloundra Cup last Saturday.
The Grafton Cup 2014 nominations close tomorrow, Thursday July 3, and will be published right here at Races.com.au so stay tuned.
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