Leon & Troy Crostens’ first-past-the-post in the Australian Cup Awesome Rock is back this weekend heading the field and early betting odds for the Easter Cup 2016 at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday.
Jumping a $21 outsider in betting to win Flemington’s Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 12, the progressive Fastnet Rock four-year-old scored the upset win over Preferment.
He is back to win again and hold on to the title on Easter Saturday as one of 13 stayers in the mix for this year’s $150,000 Group 3 Le Pine Funerals Easter Cup (2000m).
Due to run as Caulfield Race 8 at 4:50pm (AEDT) as the penultimate event on the bumper nine-race program, this year’s Easter Cup field is oozing class.
Awesome Rock sits top of the current Easter Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $3.20 to succeed from his wide barrier 11 draw with regular rider Stephen Baster continuing his association with the stallion.
From six previous Caulfield runs, Awesome Rock has run second once and third three times.
His last run at the track produced a good fourth to Bow Creek in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) in late February.
Shooting for his first win since a black-type victory over 1800m at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day last November, Awesome Rock carries 59kg as the top weight in Saturday’s clash.
He is followed in Easter Cup betting by Lidari ($4.80) drawn a treat in gate four and carrying 58.5kg with Brad Rawiller booked to ride the Darren Weir-trained Acclamation stallion.
The French import is a rising eight-year-old who improved on a Peter Young 12th two back to cross a devastatingly close second in Morphettville’s Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1600m) in mid-March.
He returns to Melbourne this weekend having his 10th run at the track and drops from 61kg last time out.
In a fairly open market there are three other hopes under $10 for the Group 3 win with Puccini ($7), Extra Zero ($7.50) and early market mover Guardini ($9).
Another Weir-trained runner, Encosta De Lago five-year-old Puccini has drawn gate two as he looks to improve on a last start 10th to It’s Somewhat in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) in Sydney two weeks ago.
He is unplaced from three previous Caulfield runs and hasn’t won in Australia, but is a former Group 1 winner in his native New Zealand.
Extra Zero is out wide in barrier 12 for jockey Mark Zahra, the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained veteran a rising 10-year-old coming off a sixth in the Australian Cup.
He was beaten only 1.65 lengths in the Group 1 lead-up and has his incredible 86th career start on the weekend chasing his maiden win since New Year’s Day of 2015.
Early money is coming for the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained grey import Guardini who has had just the two Australian runs to date, including a sixth in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) that produced last year’s Easter Cup winner Sertorius (2nd).
Other notable hopes include the Team Hawkes-trained Zabeel six-year-old Leebaz ($10) and Tasmanian visitor Gladstone ($15) who is two-from-four over the distance.
See below for the full Easter Cup 2016 field, barriers, jockeys, weights and latest betting odds provided by the country’s leading sportsbook Ladbrokes.com.au who are matching new deposits dollar for dollar up to $500 when first-time sign-ups quote the code BETBONUS!