After a failed Melbourne Cup run the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Almoonqith is tipped to improve in another two mile run this weekend in the Sandown Cup 2015 on Zipping Classic Day.
A field of 15 faces off in Sandown Race 8 at 5:20pm (AEST) on Saturday afternoon in this year’s $150,000 Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) including the Lindsay Park-raced Dynaformer stallion Almoonqith.
The galloper won the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) defeating subsequent Queen’s Cup winner Dandino two back before a luckless 18th behind upset winner Prince Of Penzance in the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 3.
This weekend he runs over the same distance but in much easier company, Almoonqith still facing a tough challenge going up from 53kg 59kg and jumping from a wide barrier 14 draw with Michael Walker aboard.
The bookies though are taking no chances and have the import installed at the top of the Sandown Cup odds paying $4.60 through Ladbrokes.com.au to handle the weight and the gate.
In an open Sandown Cup betting market Almoonqith is followed closely by the 60kg top weight and fellow Melbourne Cup graduate The Offer ($5.50) as well as last start winner De Little Engine ($5.50).
Gai Waterhouse’s 2014 Sydney Cup winner over the two miles, Montjeu seven-year-old The Offer won the Group 3 Bendigo Cup (2400m) in late October before running one of his best races to cross a close eighth in the Melbourne Cup last time out.
He had zero luck in the ‘race that stops a nation’ and having pulled through the run well is tipped as a genuine danger on Saturday despite giving away weight to the rest of the Sandown Cup field.
De Little Engine is at the opposite end of the Sandown Cup weights on the 54kg minimum, James Winks with the ride from gate 12 aboard the Danny O’Brien-trained Encosta De Lago five-year-old.
Winks replaces Chad Schofield who rode the gelding to his smart three-quarter length victory over 2800m in a Benchmark 96 over 2800m on Melbourne Cup Day from a wide barrier 16 of 18 draw.
The next best in betting are this autumn’s upset Sydney Cup winner Grand Marshal ($7) and Maygrove ($7.50) for in-form New Zealand horseman Murray Baker.
Sydney’s best Chris Waller prepares imported Dansili six-year-old Grand Marshall who ran a disappointing 21st of 24 runners in this year’s Melbourne Cup and has James McDonald aboard in gate two as he chases atonement in the Sandown equivalent on the weekend.
The Cambridge-based Baker meanwhile missed out on having a Melbourne Cup runner when his Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan came down with a bout of colic, but still enjoyed more Group 1 glory this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with Turn Me Loose leading all the way to win last Saturday’s Emirates Stakes.
His Sandown Cup runner Maygrove is drawn in gate seven with Kerrin McEvoy aboard on 54kg, the Authorized gelding coming off fourths in the Bart Cummings, Geelong Cup and Bendigo Cup so has decent form around many of these proven stayers.
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