Reigning champion Up Cups is the top-weighted of the 21 stayers making up the Launceston Cup 2017 nominations for the summer showdown next Wednesday.
Continuing the action of the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival, the $200,000 Group 3 Launceston Cup (2400m) runs on February 22 and has a field limit of 16 starters.
Twelve months ago the David Brunton-trained Helike gelding Up Cups won the mile and a half feature carrying 58kg on the back of a Hobart Cup victory over the same distance at Tassie’s other major track.
This season the six-year-old failed to impress running second last when ninth in the Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m) on February 5.
He is out to atone in the Launceston Cup, giving the weight away allocated 59kg, after rumours he had pulled up lame after the Hobart flop were extinguished with a vet check.
“We’ve done every check possible and the results of a blood test say the horse is as good as ever,” Brunton told Tas Racing.
This year’s Hobart Cup winner out to do the double in 2017 is the Scott Brunton-trained Count Da Vinci.
A winner of six of his past seven starts, Count Da Vinci put one and a half lengths on his closest rival in the Hobart Cup on the 54kg minimum improving on a second to Geegees Goldengirl in the weight-for-age Summer Cup (2200m) the run before.
The Faltaat six-year-old is undefeated at Launceston Racecourse boasting three wins from as many starts at the track heading into next week’s feature.
Penalised for the Hobart Cup win, Count Da Vinci will rises up to 57.5kg in the Launceston Cup weights.
He is joined in the Launceston Cup nominations by stablemates Gladstone and Big Pegg.
Dylan Thomas seven-year-old Gladstone ran in at big odds for a brave third in the Hobart Cup trifecta last time out, beaten under two lengths.
He is well-weighted again for the rematch in the Launceston Cup with 54kg.
Big Pegg is one of four mares entered for the Launceston Cup this summer, the six-year-old daughter of Incumbent coming off back-to-back 2100m wins.
The latest saw her carry 57.5kg to victory at Hobart on Cup Day and if she makes the Launceston Cup field, currently sitting 18th on the ballot, she will drop to the minimum kilos.
The Hobart Cup runner-up Big Duke is also back for another shot at a Group 3 win in the Apple Isle for Victorian horseman Darren Weir.
Weir has a total of four entries with Big Duke (55.5kg) joined by Lord Van Percy (58kg), Master Zephyr (57kg) and five-year-old mare Unfurl (54kg) who has won two of her past three starts.
Former Tassie jockey, the now Melbourne-based Craig Newitt is confirmed to ride the Leon, Dean & Trent Wells-trained Geegees Baritone in the Launceston Cup.
The Wordsmith five-year-old has his 18th start at the track chasing a fifth win after a 2.5 length win over 2100m on February 1 under 59kg.
The official Launceston Cup 2017 field and barriers are set for release on Friday.
In the meantime head to Ladbrokes.com.au for the best summer and autumn racing odds and offers.
2017 Launceston Cup Nominations
Launceston Racecourse – 22/02/2017
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Ballot||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||55×0090341||MISS HISSY||M||6||Paul Maher||1||54kg||70|
|2||17×0089269||UP CUPS||G||6||David Brunton||2||59kg||95|
|3||274×747514||GEEGEES GOLDENGIRL||M||5||Stuart Gandy||3||56kg||93|
|4||25×6795204||LORD VAN PERCY (GB)||G||7||Darren Weir||4||58kg||93|
|5||36×1111121||COUNT DA VINCI (NZ)||G||6||Scott Brunton||5||57.5kg||92|
|6||2688232624||MASTER ZEPHYR (GB)||G||5||Darren Weir||6||57kg||91|
|7||23x1x42112||BIG DUKE (IRE)||G||5||Darren Weir||7||55.5kg||88|
|9||452×459161||GEEGEES BARITONE||G||5||Leon, Dean & Trent Wells||9||54kg||84|
|11||422×906061||DOUBLE BLUFF (IRE)||G||6||Robbie Laing||11||54kg||82|
|12||2124×43143||ONCIDIUM RULER||G||5||Michael Kent||12||54kg||81|
|13||6900x9x612||OUR LUCKY OMENS||G||7||Kelvin Bourke||13||54kg||77|
|15||5646457121||UNFURL (NZ)||M||5||Darren Weir||15||54kg||75|
|16||552×865336||SETTLER’S STONE||G||5||Troy Blacker||16||54kg||74|
|17||900630×090||SPUR ON GOLD||G||5||Michelle Payne||17||54kg||71|
|18||1662215711||BIG PEGG||M||6||Scott Brunton||18||54kg||71|
|19||x000878632||SMOKE ’N’ WHISKY||G||7||John Blacker||19||54kg||71|
|21||540×524372||TUFF BICKIE||G||4||Ken Keys||21||54kg||64|