This Sunday in Melbourne co-trainer Paul Snowden believes the reverse way of going will actually work to his young galloper Cluster’s advantage in the 2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse.
A four-year-old son of Fastnet Rock, Cluster is one of 14 gallopers in a star-studded field for this year’s $400,000 Group 1 Bendigo Bank East Malvern Sir Rupert Clarke Charity Cup (1400m).
The stallion sees the track for just the second time following a disappointing 10th to Long John here in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) as a three-year-old last October.
Cluster was under the preparation of Anthony Cummings for his opening six career starts including the Caulfield Guineas where he was blocked for a run when beaten 13.5 lengths in his second Group 1 appearance.
This year Cluster was transferred to the care of the Snowdens, son Paul now in partnership with his great father Peter who was the former head trainer for Godolphin Australia right up until the start of this season.
The horse has been in top form winning three of his four starts for his new stable, most recently the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 13.
Also impressive was his first-up success at Kembla Grange back in June when he was far too good for the field breaking his maiden status with a nine and a half length success.
Now his trainers are hoping the horse can carry that form to Victoria on Sunday with Cluster back up to elite level and facing some genuine champions.
Cluster’s only other run in Melbourne aside from the Caulfield Guineas failure was a close third in the Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley 12 months ago.
Under the lights that night and up over a mile for the first time he was defeated under half a length by Divine Calling (1st) and subsequent Cox Plate winner Shamus Award (2nd).
That form, plus the fact he seems to favour his Melbourne leg when working at home in Sydney, will play to his advantage on Sunday according to Paul.
“Honestly, he goes around in Sydney on his Melbourne leg all the time. It’s his most favoured leg,” he told AAP on Friday.
“He had a trot and canter here this morning and he never left his right leg.”
It’s a super tight Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes betting market this year at Ladbrokes.com.au too with so many livewire chances with genuine claims.
The easing favourite out from $5 to $7 is the Peter Moody-trained Dissident who comes off back-to-back Group 1 wins in Melbourne, most recently in the Makybe Diva Stakes over the 1600m.
Equal on $7 now in from $8 is then Gai Waterhouse’s in-form mare Sweet Idea, last seen crossing second to Dissident in the Memsie Stakes a month ago in her first run at Caulfield.
Cluster meanwhile occupies the third line of the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes odds at $7.50, in from $8.
He’s got a wide draw to overcome however in the far outside gate (14) while Dissident in five and Sweet Idea in eight drew more favourably.
“It’s not easy, let me tell you,” Snowden said of the wide draw in the big field at Caulfield.
“But this type of race always seems to generate decent speed from the 1400 start. Horses drawn out wide have got to try to find a spot if they’re on-speed and that’s what we’re banking on.
“Hopefully a few will push forward and the pace will be genuine so this horse can get home.”
History also shows an outside gate is not a disadvantage with three Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winners since 1983 having jumped from barrier 14.
In the Theo Marks Stakes, where Cluster beat the Chris Waller-trained Bull Point who also runs in the Sir Rupert, the winner was ridden by Tim Clark who stays aboard for Sunday on 53kg.
For the Group 1 he drops down a kilo getting in on the 52kg minimum, weights led by Dissident (58kg) and the Colin Scott-trained Speediness (55.5kg) with Toorak Toff (56.5kg, 2011) the last horse to carry more than 55.5kg to victory in the Sir Rupert.
To back Cluster or your other Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes selections at the guaranteed best price this weekend, visit Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on the race!