Today’s Grafton Cup 2014 field is down to 12 runners after originally drawing 19 final acceptors following yet another early scratching from the classic with Brave Ali coming out.
The in-form Tony Gollan-trained seven-year-old was one of the top fancies for the $150,000 Listed GDSC Grafton Cup (2350m) that takes centre stage as Race 7 at 3:53pm this afternoon on the Clarence River Jockey Club’s biggest day of racing.
Injury has ruled the recent Ipswich Cup winner out of their chance to secure another winter black-type however, Brave Ali having last been seen running second to upset winner Brayroan in the Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m) on June 28.
They are the latest in a host of withdrawals from the lucrative country clash with Victoria’s Ciaron Maher yesterday ruling out the defending Grafton Cup champion Mr O’Ceirin who had a wide barrier draw and hefty 59kg top weight.
Also out of the equation are two Chris Waller-trained stablemates with Permit and Mulaqen to instead race in the Listed Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The other two Grafton Cup scratchings were Brian Smith’s Ipswich Cup third placegetter Grey Assignment and High Chaparral mare High Kin who ran fourth in the Caloundra Cup at her home track last time out.
With so many missing from the original line-up the Grafton Cup betting markets have opened up.
There is however still a dominant favourite in the Gai Waterhouse-trained Queenstown who has now firmed right into $3.30.
She’s due to be ridden by Tim Clark who replaces Tommy Berry, aboard for the Stratum four-year-old’s last start when fifth behind Kingdoms in the Listed Open Mile (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 21.
Proven up to 2040m, Queenstown is tipped to improve as she steps up in distance today and will also appreciate the 54kg minimum weight.
Waterhouse will be shooting for the Grafton Cup quinella too also saddling up Travolta ($7.50) who is the new 59kg top weight in the third widest gate.
Other notable hopes then include Waller’s Winter Cup champ Secessio ($6.50) to be ridden by Hong Kong winning jockey Tye Angland and their stable mate Hoylonny ($8) out to turn the tables after finishing a narrow second to them last start.
There are then two $10 chances in Grafton Cup betting with the Gerald Ryan-trained Ironstein likely to be retired post-race and the John Thompson-trained Pretty Pins who caught the eye running a close third to The Inventor in the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup (2200m) on June 21.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for our insider Grafton Cup 2014 betting tips to be published shortly.
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