The Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) is one of two Group One races running at Flemington this Saturday, attracting a top-class field of 16 middle-distance runners.
A number of classy horses are set to run for the $1 million prize money on offer, including Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) winner Protectionist, three-time Group One winner Happy Trails, cult hero The Cleaner, and Red Cadeaux – the British raider who will make his first Australian start outside of the Melbourne Cup on Saturday.
Featured alongside these talented runners will be the Gai Waterhouse-trained Greatwood. The five-year-old gelding’s inclusion in the 2015 Australian Cup came as a bit of a surprise to many but his trainer insists the race has been on her radar for a while now and his strong win in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) on February 21 just reaffirmed her plans.
“He’s such a nice gelding, a lot stronger than last preparation,” Waterhouse told TVN this week.
“Once he won that race showing that much fight, I programmed him to go to Melbourne for the Australian Cup.”
A former UK galloper, Greatwood debuted in Australia last August, finishing third in the Canterbury Hurlstone RSL Handicap (1400m) before strongly winning the Listed Premier’s Cup (1800m) two weeks later. He ended his campaign with a second-last place finish in the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m).
Following a three month spell, the gelding resumed in a Benchmark 90 over 1500m at Rosehill on January 31 but couldn’t stay on well enough, finishing three lengths off the winner in second last place. Three weeks later however it was a different story, Greatwood won the Parramatta Cup half a length from Burbero.
The gelding went straight to the front, travelled well at a good tempo but briefly looked beaten when headed at the 100m before fighting on strongly to win. Waterhouse is expecting a similar result from her charge in the 2015 Australian Cup, confident he will run well.
“I think he’ll do that (be tough and brave) again tomorrow,” Waterhouse said.
“He’s a good staying English horse, a tough horse and I think he’ll be very competitive.”
Greatwood will jump from barrier 12 with Chad Schofield to ride in Saturday’s race and is paying $19 in the betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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