Local horseman Liam Birchley is hoping the engagement of veteran hoop Robert Thompson for Pop ‘N’ Scotch will see a change of luck for the dual runner-up in Saturday’s 2016 Queensland Cup.
Birchley has booked Thompson to partner the stable’s Husson five-year-old in this year’s $100,000 Listed Queensland Cup (3200m) at Eagle Farm Racecourse in the hope of getting the gelding to improve on his two previous seconds in the two mile winter feature.
“Robert rides a bit longer than most jockeys and that will suit Pop ‘N’ Scotch,” Birchley told Racenet.
“I have had a lot of success with Robert over the years.”
Pop ‘N’ Scotch was a distant second to Iggi Pop in 2014 with Ric McMahon aboard before narrowly going down by the barest of margins 12 months ago behind Mister Impatience when the race ran at the Sunshine Coast and Paul Hammersley had the ride.
“He was home everywhere but the line [last year],” Birchley said.
“I didn’t have him the previous year when he was a three-year-old and he was second to Iggi Pop.”
This year Birchley is hoping it will be third time lucky for his out-of-form stayer who hasn’t won a race since June last year at Ipswich or finished in the money since that October at Geelong.
Pop ‘N’ Scotch has been racing since the start of the year without a genuine break, which is a concern for Birchley.
“The Queensland Cup seems to be his race but he has been up for a long while and that is the worry,” he admitted.
The horse’s latest two runs were also disappointing.
Two back he was 12th crossing nearly 19 lengths off Glorious Sinndar in Flemington’s Listed Ramsden Stakes (3200m) over the same distance as the Queensland Cup, ridden by Cory Parish.
Last time out he raced in the Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m) on July 2, but again finished a well-beaten ninth behind Amexed as a 51/1 outsider with Anthony Allen aboard.
The current Queensland Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have four runners at single-figures including Chris Waller’s recent Stayers Cup runner-up over the two miles Murphy’s Delight at a short $2.35.
Pop ‘N’ Scotch, who gets in on the 54kg minimum, is far from a roughie paying $13 to return to winning form.
The galloper’s previous trainer John Thompson trains this year’s second favourite Jiayuguan ($3.80), the former French-trained Teofilo mare having her first look at the distance with Damian Browne coming aboard in place of Sam Clipperton.
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