After originally attracting an above capacity field, the 2014 Grafton Cup on Thursday will be run two short of full after five early withdrawals from the Clarence River Jockey Club’s showcase event.
There are now only 14 runners for the $150,000 Listed Grafton District Services Club Grafton Cup (2350m) which runs tomorrow as Race 7 at 3:53pm.
Top weight and the defending Grafton Cup winner Mr O’Ceirin is the latest scratching from the race, Ciaron Maher opting not to give them the chance of back-to-back wins.
They were drawn wide and allocated 59kg, and while there is nothing wrong with the horse, Maher has decided that with that weight against that field they weren’t well placed.
Also out are two of Chris Waller’s original four acceptors with Mulaqen and Permit, who finished third and fourth behind stable mate Secessio in the Winter Cup, withdrawn yesterday.
They are both now likely to run in the $120,000 Listed Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m) instead at Flemington on Saturday.
Earlier in the week the first two horses to come out of the Grafton Cup field were High Kin and Grey Assignment.
With so many outs the three emergency runners have all earned a start with Phrases ($51), recent Murwillumbah Cup winner Ongoing Venture ($26) and roughie of the pack Samsili ($151).
Dominating the updated Grafton Cup odds at a firming price is then the Gai Waterhouse-trained Queenstown now into $3.80 after opening at $5.50 yesterday.
Drawn in barrier seven with Tim Clark to ride, the four-year-old Stratum mare is third up for the season and comes off a fifth over the Eagle Farm mile from June 21.
She’s tipped to improve as she makes the jump from 1600m to 2350m however with winning form up to 2040m in Melbourne.
Queenstown also ran a brave third over 2400m in the Group 2 Zipping Classic last spring, form the bookies are tipping to hold up here especially as she gets in on the 54kg minimum.
Second pick in the markets at $6.50, now that Waller’s Mulaquen is out, is the Tony Gollan-trained Brave Ali in from their opening price of $8.50.
Winner of the Ipswich Cup (2150m) two back, the O’Reilly seven-year-old has enjoyed a purple patch of form since moving to Brisbane with Gollan and was last seen running second to Brayroan in the Caloundra Cup (2400m) at fortnight ago.
Their runs are spaced well and the distance is ideal, the only barrier perhaps being the rise to 56.5kg.
There are then four other single figure fancies in the markets including $8 third pick Secessio, Waller’s Winter Cup winner in gate nine with Tye Angland in the saddle.
Also under $10 to win are then the new top weight Travolta ($8.50 in from $10) also representing Waterhouse, the Michael Moroney-trained Garud ($8.50 in from $10) out to improve on a Tatt’s Cup sixth and Waller’s Winter Cup runner-up Hoylonny ($9) who is the biggest market mover in from $13.
See below for the updated Winter Cup odds, prices open online now at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $250 welcome bonus bet special for first time depositors.