This Thursday the always-popular Warrnambool Cup 2015 takes centre stage at Warrnambool Racecourse and one of the sure-to-be favourites in the official field is the Darren Weir-trained Tooleybuc Kid.
Last Warrnambool Racing Carnival the local Wangoom-based Weir enjoyed seven winners that saw him score a $41,000 Mercedes, which was on offer to any trainer who prepared four race winners over the festival including any one of the four major events – Weir claiming the Cup with Akzar.
This time round he is in with another livewire hope in the $200,000 Listed Sungold Milk Warrnambool Cup (2350m) saddling-up Tooleybuc Kid in the 15-starter field.
Set to run as Warrnambool Race 8 at 3:20pm (AEST) on Thursday, the Cup clash is shaping up as a top showdown this autumn and in it Tooleybuc Kid will shoot for his third straight win from barrier seven with Mark Zahra riding.
Zhara replaces jockey Brad Rawiller aboard the Denon gelding, the five-year-old galloper having saluted over 2000m at Caulfield on April 18 before his last start victory in the Pakenham Cup (2000m) on April 26.
A fortnight on he goes up from his 57kg winning weight to the equal 59.5kg top weight, Weir still convinced Tooleybuc Kid can hand him back-to-back Warrnambool Cup wins.
Weir has a total of three final acceptors in the field with Tooleybuc Kid joined by stablemates Tall Ship and Count Encosta drawn at opposite ends of the field in barriers 15 and two respectively.
Like Tooleybuc Kid, Tall Ship comes off some very imposing form having won his past three straight starts.
Rawiller jumps on the imported Sea The Stars gelding who was last seen beating home Tuscan Fire by a nose in the Terang Cup (2150m) on April 19 carrying 57.5kg.
Rawiller had the ride that day as well, and on Thursday the progressive four-year-old galloper will appreciate the drop to 57kg.
Count Encosta meanwhile has the better draw with Michelle Payne booked for the ride, the veteran eight-year-old getting in on the 54kg minimum and coming off a fifth to Second Bullet from last Saturday over 2000m at Caulfield.
The other Warrnambool Cup final acceptor carrying 59.5kg along with Weir’s Tooleybuc Kid is the Saab Hasan-trained Shoreham drawn one closer to the fence in barrier six.
Steven Arnold is down to partner the Reset five-year-old whose lead-up run was a second behind Martinvast in a handicap over 2600m at Flemington on Anzac Day.
The other heaviest-weighted hope with 58kg and the inside run from barrier one for top hoop Damien Oliver is the Dan O’Sullivan-trained Terang Cup runner-up Tuscan Fire.
The Tuscanos eight-year-old has a solid record over Thursday’s distance (9-4-1-2), but is yet to run top three in his three previous runs at the Warrnambool track.
Other notable Warrnambool Cup hopes this autumn include Group 1 performed Team Hawkes’ mare La Amistad, Pakenham Cup third placed Verglas mare Lucciola and three-time winner from four starts at the track Clairvaux representing local horseman Matthew Williams.
See below for the full Warrnambool Cup 2015 field, barriers, jockeys and weights below.
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2015 Warrnambool Cup Final Field & Barrier Draw
Warrnambool Race 8 (3:20pm) – 07/05/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||77673×6342||SHOREHAM||Saab Hasan||Steven Arnold||6||59.5kg||96|
|2||x575333211||TOOLEYBUC KID||Darren Weir||Mark Zahra||7||59.5kg||96|
|3||4536323352||TUSCAN FIRE||Dan O’Sullivan||Damien Oliver||1||58kg||93|
|4||2937x780x7||SECESSIO (GB)||Bob Challis||Michael Walker||12||57.5kg||92|
|5||x374023x87||LA AMISTAD||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||13||57kg||95|
|6||x5211x8111||TALL SHIP (IRE)||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||15||57kg||91|
|7||46270×4527||VERDANT (GB)||Robert Smerdon||Chris Parnham||4||56.5kg||90|
|8||4x27x36741||EVENMOREACTION||Michael O’leary||Ms Linda Meech||8||55kg||87|
|9||x054745813||LUCCIOLA (IRE)||David & Coral Feek||Regan Bayliss (a)||9||54kg||86|
|10||057081626x||YOU THINK SO (NZ)||Michael Kent||Jake Bayliss (a), (late alt)||14||54kg||84|
|11||2543×46235||COUNT ENCOSTA||Darren Weir||Ms Michelle Payne (late alt)||2||54kg||82|
|12||1x072x0664||ARCH FIRE (USA)||Robert Smerdon||TBA||11||54kg||78|
|13||2562418735||GOLD MEDALS (NZ)||Symon Wilde||Dean Yendall||10||54kg||77|
|14||652427×117||CLAIRVAUX||Matthew Williams||Ryan Maloney||5||54kg||75|
|15||x21919x659||RED FELLA||Chris Ryan||Jason Benbow||3||54kg||70|