The consistent Peter Moody-trained gelding El Greco heads the Taj Rossi Series Final 2015 field and weights for the Flemington Finals Day opener in Melbourne this weekend.
Kicking off the action as race one of nine at 11:50am (AEST) on Saturday morning, this year’s $120,000 Listed Taj Rossi Series Final (1600m) features 13 two-year-olds with El Greco to wear the number one saddlecloth.
Damien Oliver has the ride on the Artie Schiller gelding, a winner of two of his four starts to date, who also boasts two second place finishes meaning he has never run outside a quinella.
Drawn well in barrier five for this weekend, El Greco ticks plenty of boxes but needs to be at his best to post a third win having been allocated the 59kg top weight, which is two kilos more than the next heaviest weighted in the field.
Last start the gelding ran second when beaten a nose by smart filly Bengal Cat in the $80,000 Murray Cox Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on June 27 when carrying the same weight.
Murray Cox winner Bengal Cat is also set to back-up in the Taj Rossi decider this weekend, John Sadler’s improving daughter of Bernardini with work to do however after suffering a blow with the outside alley.
Top hoop Craig Williams stays on Bengal Cat who also goes up from 54kg to 55kg and who did it easier last time out for a nice barrier two draw.
The step up to a mile is set to suit her however with Sadler looking at a spring campaign targeting the $1 million Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) back at Flemington this Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Along with Bengal Cat there are two other last start winners in the Taj Rossi Series Final field including the 57kg second top weight Royal Rumble from Adelaide.
The Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas-trained New Approach gelding has his first run outside of South Australia in the race and comes off back-to-back victories at Morphettville Parks.
The latest of those was only last weekend when Clare Lindop guided him to victory on 59kg, so he gets the weight relief but needs to handle barrier 11 as well as a tougher class of rivals as he steps out over further than 1300m for the first time.
The other last start winner is also widely drawn on Saturday with Mick Price’s Encosta De Lago filly Gungastruck in 12 having saluted from gate eight of 10 last time out over 1380m at Pakenham.
Price has also accepted for the lightly raced and better drawn Irada who Craig Newitt rides from barrier three on the 54kg minimum.
A daughter of Iffraaj, the progressive filly won on debut at Moe before a third to Bengal Cat when only a quarter length off the winner in the Murray Cox.
That day Irada had the wide gate (12 of 14) so she should be improving for the rematch with the better barrier this time round.
Other notable hopes include Linda Meech’s mount Parmalove who has barrier two after a wide gate (14 of 14) got the better of her at the track on June 27 behind Bengal Cat and the Nigel Blackiston-trained local Makfi filly Ma Raison who was fourth in the same lead-up race on debut.
See below for the full Taj Rossi Series Final 2015 field, barriers, jockeys and weights then head to Ladbrokes.com.au for all the top Finals Day odds this weekend!
2015 Taj Rossi Series Final Field & Barrier Draw
Flemington Race 1 (11:50am) – 11/07/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||1212||EL GRECO||Peter G Moody||Damien Oliver||5||59kg||72|
|2||45311||ROYAL RUMBLE||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||Clare Lindop||11||57kg||68|
|3||6×31||BENGAL CAT||John Sadler||Craig Williams||13||55kg||68|
|4||13||IRADA||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||3||54kg||65|
|5||8×176||AUTOMATIC CHOICE||Colin Rees||Darren Gauci||6||54kg||62|
|6||42||AYDA||Colin & Cindy Alderson||Chris Parnham||9||54kg||62|
|7||6×91||GUNGASTRUCK||Mick Price||Michael Dee (a)||12||54kg||62|
|8||158||PARMALOVE||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||Ms Linda Meech||2||54kg||62|
|9||4||MA RAISON (NZ)||Nigel Blackiston||Dwayne Dunn||8||54kg||61|
|10||62||PARTY BOY||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Cory Parish||1||54kg||61|
|11||44||FLYING LIGHT||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Harry Coffey (a)||7||54kg||60|
|12||8×37||TRIPLE EFFORT||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||TBA||4||54kg||60|
|13||55×0||AYERS ROCK||Shawn Mathrick||TBA||10||54kg||58|