Warwick Farm-based horseman Gregory Hickman is hopeful heading into Thursday’s Grafton Cup 2015 but admits the $15 odds for the handicap clash being offered for his runner Dream Folk accurately represents his chances.
Due to jump as Race 7 at 3:55pm (AEST) on Thursday afternoon, the $150,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) field features 16 stayers with the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au firmly led by Ciaron Maher’s last start Winter Cup winner Kapour ($3.70).
Two other chances are under $10 in betting with Gai Waterhouse’s in-form top weight Bonfire ($5) and the rails-drawn Chris Waller-trained Reigning ($7).
Further down the Grafton Cup betting markets at $15 punters can find Hickman’s runner Dream Folk who has drawn well with barrier five and carries the 54kg minimum with apprentice Winona Costin booked for the ride aboard the Dream Ballard gelding.
Five-year-old Dream Folk hasn’t won a race since saluting over the 2400m at Kembla Grange in the Stayers Cup back in mid-March, but has been far from disgraced in his four subsequent runs.
After a third behind fellow Grafton Cup hope Reigning over 2000m at Rosehill on June 13, the galloper was last seen running second last when sixth and nearly nine lengths off the winner Kapour in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) on a Heavy (8) Rosehill track on June 27.
This Thursday he has the same weight and jockey, Hickman rewarding Costin with the ride despite the Grafton Cup being a non-claiming race, and a similar barrier but should be improving on firmer ground.
“She’s been faithful to my stable and has ridden five winners for me from her past 14 rides,” Hickman said of Costin.
“I’m showing some loyalty to her and if she can get him to switch off in the early stages, he’ll be in the finish.
“The firmer track will suit. He was in the market against this grade last start at Rosehill but the track was heavy and there was no speed in the race.
“It will be a totally different story here and he’s going terrific.”
While hopeful conditions will suit Dream Folk, Hickman isn’t being unrealistic about his chances of coming home first in the Clarence River Jockey Club’s premier staying showdown.
On Ramornie Handicap Day this Wednesday, Day 1 of the Grafton Cup Carnival, Hickman has the in-form Braces lining up in the $45,000 Grafton Guineas (1600m) and he’s also hopeful of a good showing from the Duporth three-year-old.
Braces has run top two in his four most recent runs including a win over 1412m last start on a Heavy (8) track with Costin also aboard that day.
“I’ve got Braces in the Guineas,” Hickman said. “He comes here in winning form, handles all ground and has come up with the inside gate.
“There are a few up the order with solid city form so I’m not declaring him but I do believe he’s a good lightweight chance.”
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