During next month’s Grafton Cup Carnival the Rodney Northam-trained Big Money will look to make history with a successful title defense in the Ramornie Handicap 2015.
The last dual winner of the Clarence River Jockey Club’s lucrative sprint feature was The Jackal (2007 & 2008) who joined the likes of Credit Again (1986 & 1987), High Classic (1980 & 1982), Develope (1970 & 1971), Trovatore (1955 & 1956), Once More (1918 & 1921) and local mare Cuban Song who saluted in four straight years (1933 – 36) as multiple winners of the race.
Last winter Choisir gelding Big Money had his campaign swansong in the $150,000 Listed Crowe Horwath Ramornie Handicap (1200m) and ended the season on a high with a three-quarter length win over Rocky King.
It followed an ultra-competitive preparation from the now five-year-old who ran first or second in all nine of his starts from November 2013 through until the Ramornie during Grafton’s July Carnival.
This time in things have been more hit and miss for Big Money who has managed to win just two races since last year’s Ramornie Handicap with a Doomben double during December in the Group 3 George Moore Stakes (1200m) and Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m).
Since then he has failed to finish better than sixth, which he posted behind Hot Snitzel in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) back at Doomben on May 9.
Following the BTC Cup Big Money was 11th to Boban in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) and his most recent run was a mid-field finish when seventh to Ciaron Maher’s star mare Srikandi in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) on June 6.
Despite the lackluster runs from his stable star, Northam is hoping he can return to form and win the Ramornie Handicap for a second year when it runs on Wednesday July 8 one day before the famous Grafton Cup on the Thursday.
Big Money has been kept in work since his run in Queensland’s richest race and the Scone-based Northam is confident he will appreciate the step back down from Group 1 company when racing at Listed level next month with four weeks between runs.
“Big Money will appreciate the month between races,” Northam told Racing and Sports.
“He pulled up super after the Stradbroke. I’m very happy with him as he raced well in Brisbane with no luck.
“He’ll really appreciate getting back to Grafton and a good galloping surface. He won’t need a trial.”
Last year the horse carried 56kg to victory and what weight he’ll be forced to lump for his shot at back-to-back trophies is Northam’s only worry.
Big Money could be allocated as much as 59kg and Northam has secured the services of regular rider Robert Thompson again who would be shooting for his fifth Ramornie Handicap winning ride since 2007 when he rode his first winner – The Jackal.
A fifth win would set a new record, Thompson currently equal on four wins with CD ‘Skeeter’ Kelly.
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