Jockey Glyn Schofield is confident a rails run from barrier one aboard the in-form Reigning can hand trainer Chris Waller his maiden win in the Grafton Cup 2015 this afternoon.
A field of 14 gallopers remains for this year’s $150,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m), which runs as Grafton Race 7 at 3:55pm (AEST) as the highlight of the annual XXXX Gold July Racing Carnival.
It is a wide open affair in the Grafton Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au this year with six of the field at single figures including the firming favourite Kapour ($3.50) who won the Winter Cup at Rosehill last time out over a number of these same rivals.
The Grafton Cup betting market mover and second favourite at $4.20, in from $7, meanwhile is Schofield’s mount Reigning who will get the run of the race from the inside alley.
That is the perfect starting position for the Choisir six-year-old according to his hoop, Reigning coming off a string of good Sydney runs as the horse looks to shrug his status as an inconsistent runner in the dominant Waller stable.
“I think that’s sort of changed this preparation,” Schofield said of Reigning’s hit-and-miss campaigns when speaking to The Daily Telegraph.
“His run first-up suggested he was in for a good campaign but he has raced well fresh in the past and not gone on with it. His second-up run was OK when you factor in he was coming off a four-week break and tackling the 1800m trip.
“When he charged home from a seemingly impossible position to win at Rosehill third-up, I think you could tell he was racing a bit better than what he had been in the past.”
Two back he beat home Bagman in the $85,000 Schweppes Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill on June 13 on a Soft (6) track before his run on a Heavy (8) back there only last weekend when a close third just over a length off the winner Sir Mako in the $85,000 TAB Place Multi Handicap (1900m).
Last Saturday Reigning carried 57kg from barrier two with Brenton Avdulla in the saddle, and while he only has winning form up to 2000m, his new hoop Schofield rates him to handle the 2350m this afternoon from a similar gate with significantly less weight (54.5kg).
“I think when a horse hits its peak they’re capable of going beyond their usual limits,” Schofield said.
“They run faster and do it for longer. Maybe this bloke is in that spot now, he’s always shown ability and perhaps he’s just needed time.”
And a favourable gate.
“From barrier one he won’t have to spend a penny,” Schofield added.
“It’s so important in these staying races to conserve energy and given we’re all sort of wondering if he can run the trip, I think barrier one will give the horse every possible opportunity.
“We’ll obviously need a bit of luck at some point to get off the rail but with a horse like him, I’d rather have that issue than being trapped deep without cover.”
Waller originally had two other Grafton Cup hopefuls but the scratching of imported mare Gosh, who Schofield was down to ride, leaves him with Reigning and Danchai.
Danchai is also a live wire hope at $8 in betting and is drawn just one on Reigning’s outside in barrier two with Hugh Bowman booked for the ride.
On June 13 Danchai won the Listed Ipswich Cup (2150m) and can run better than his third behind fellow Grafton Cup rivals Kapour and Bonfire in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) on June 27 at Rosehill being better suited to a track outside the Heavy ratings.
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