Chris Nash’s locally-trained British import Gris Caro will be asked to carry a hefty 61.5kg in Monday’s Darwin Cup 2015 sitting as the highest-rated and weighted runner in the handicap clash.
The headline race of the annual Darwin Cup Carnival up the Top End, this year’s $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m) is set to run as Race 9 at 5:35pm (local) at Fannie Bay Racecourse and has attracted a capacity field of 12 starters plus three emergencies.
Wearing the number one saddlecloth with Andrew Mallyon booked to ride on 61.5kg, With Approval stallion Gris Caro goes up a challenging five kilos on the weight he had on his back last time out when running second last (11th) behind The Bowler in the Group 3 RA Lee Stakes (1600m) in Adelaide in mid-May.
He hasn’t won a race since the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield last September but is over his pet distance in Monday’s feature boasting five wins and three seconds from 10 previous 2000m runs.
The next two heaviest weighted runners that give plenty of kilos away to the rest of the Darwin Cup field are the Gai Waterhouse-trained Travolta (60.5kg) and race favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au Lightinthenite (60kg).
Waterhouse’s Handsome Ransom seven-year-old Travolta hasn’t won since January of 2014 so it has been a long time between drinks for the gelding who was also disappointing over the mile as a 10/1 shot at Fannie Bay last start in the Sky Racing Metric Mile on July 25.
Lightinthenite meanwhile leads Darwin Cup odds, the local veteran representing trainer Gary Clarke.
Turning eight on Saturday, the son of Galileo comes off a first-up win over 1600m at the track with 61kg from barrier two with Paul Shiers in the saddle.
He is capable of handling a kilo less on Monday then but a jockey is still to be announced with Shiers jumping aboard rival Travolta.
Metric Mile winner Whistle Stop meanwhile gets in on the 54kg minimum as the Dick Leech-trained son of Street Sense shoots for back-to-back wins at the track.
Boasting a good Fannie Bay record (8-1-4-0), the rising five-year-old ran second in two earlier runs at Darwin this winter before his big two and three quarter length victory over The Ruffian last time out with a kilo less than his weight for the rematch.
The Ruffian is also backing up in the Darwin Cup, Sheila Arnold’s Lonhro eight-year-old looking to close the margin on his last start conqueror Whistle Stop.
A drop down from 57.5kg in the Metric Mile to 54.5kg on Monday will help, the Kyneton-based Arnold yet to lock in a hoop for the old warhorse.
The other last start winners with a guaranteed run in the Darwin Cup are Royal Request and Flying Tormenta who have both won their two most recent starts, while Clarke’s second emergency Storm Approach also won over the Fannie Bay mile on July 25.
Prepared by Neil Dyer, Bel Esprit five-year-old Royal Request won over 1600m at the track on July 4 before returning a fortnight later to beat subsequent Metric Mile champ Whistle Stop by one and a quarter lengths over 1900m.
Apprentice jockey Raymond Vigar retains the ride and Royal Request drops a kilo to 54kg.
Also shooting for three on the trot, Flying Tormenta has Jan Cameron in the saddle on Monday and is eligible for the $4,000 TROBIS bonus for the Darwin Cup winner.
The Shaft filly turns four on the weekend and won over the track and distance with two kilos more (56kg) on July 18 in her first 2000m assignment.
See below for the full Darwin Cup 2015 field, jockeys and weights with the barrier draw out on Friday.
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2015 Darwin Cup Final Field
Fannie Bay Race 9 (5:35pm) – 03/08/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||x6710x080x||GRIS CARO (GB)||Chris Nash||Andrew Mallyon||61.5kg||98|
|2||4684500×67||TRAVOLTA (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Paul Shiers||60.5kg||96|
|4||1×05321836||BOLTON (NZ)||Neil Dyer||Wayne Kerford||54.5kg||84|
|5||8×62832370||PAYTEEVEE||Richard Laming||Paul Denton||54.5kg||84|
|6||x031370x02||THE RUFFIAN||Sheila Arnold||TBA||54.5kg||84|
|7||9565792×49||PRETTY BLONDE||Kym Healy||Justin Potter||54kg||83|
|8||1512364221||WHISTLE STOP||Dick Leech||Stephen Ridler||54kg||83|
|9||x46126x954||POST D’FRANCE (NZ)||Stephen Brown||Stephen Baster||54kg||82|
|10||4384044411||ROYAL REQUEST||Neil Dyer||Raymond Vigar (a)||54kg||82|
|11||266x90x575||PROVERB||Neil Dyer||Dean Holland||54kg||79|
|12||x967245611||FLYING TORMENTA TROBIS Bonus Scheme||John Peacock||Ms Jan Cameron||54kg||64|
|13e||2122315264||KAYNO||Kerry Petrick||Ms Felicia Bergstrand (a)||54kg||78|
|14e||2392×23221||STORM APPROACH||Gary Clarke||TBA||54kg||74|
|15e||53DDx25413||SATURDAY SORCERER||Mark Webb||Paul Denton||54kg||74|