Triple Melbourne Cup winning hoop Damien Oliver has been confirmed as the hoop to partner the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Cluster in next month’s Darley Classic 2014.
On Tuesday Racing Victoria took first declarations for this year’s $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) held at Flemington Racecourse on Emirates Stakes Day, Saturday November 8.
Of the 25 sprinters left in the mix for the Melbourne Cup Carnival classic, it is the Team Hawkes-trained four length Gilgai Stakes winner Chautauqua ($2.80) leading the Darley Classic odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
A little further down the Darley Classic betting markets at $15 is then Cluster, the Fastnet Rock four-year-old last seen running a luckless fifth behind Trust In A Gust in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 28.
He was forced back after jumping from the outside barrier (14) that day and so was far from disgraced in the finish making up lots of late ground with Tim Clark in the saddle.
Clark also rode the stallion, formerly prepared by Anthony Cummings, for his run before when defeating Bull Point by a long neck in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill.
Oliver however has been confirmed to take over riding duties in the Darley Classic where Cluster could also face the likes of the Joe Pride-trained The Shorts winner Terravista ($5.50), the world’s former top rated sprinter Lankan Rupee ($6) last seen finishing second in the Moir Stakes, UK raider Slade Power ($7.50) and the defending champ Buffering ($9).
Oliver, a winner of over 1200m races, has incredibly had 16 rides in the Darley Classic over the years but has failed to win the race with his best result being two second place finishes.
Co-trainer Paul Snowden, who is now in partnership with his great father Paul, said they were pleased with how Cluster came through the Rupert Clarke and that they were giving him a short break before the Darley Classic.
“We’re freshening him up and he’ll be ready to roll over 1200 metres on Darley Classic day,” Racenet reported.
In other Darley Classic news a notable omission from the first acceptances was the Jason Warren-trained Bel Sprinter who could now head straight to Perth for the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 22.
The 2013 The Galaxy winner won his first race since the Group 1 last time out in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1100m) in a dead-heat with another noteworthy non-Darley Classic acceptor Miracles Of Life, the seven-year-old up for the first time since his second throat operation.
“The Winterbottom has always been our main target with him this preparation,” Warren told Racing Victoria.
“He’s dynamite fresh and at this stage I might just give him a trial ten days from the race and then take him to Perth.
“I thought the Darley Classic looked a very hot race this year and he’s not at his best down the straight.
“If it was over 1100m, or at Moonee Valley, then I might consider it but being 1200 down the straight with the depth of the field I thought we’d give it a miss.”
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