Veteran hoop Jim Byrne will chase a fourth...
Visiting Kiwi raider Sampson drops in grade this weekend and shapes-up as a surprise hope in the 2019 Ipswich Cup.
The Queensland Winter Racing Carnival continues on Saturday with a race card full of black-type action at Ipswich Racecourse, the line-up headlined by the Listed $175,000 Channel Seven Ipswich Cup (2150m).
Ipswich Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au features four single-figure fancies including the easing $3.50 favourite Fighting Teo from the Toowoomba stables of Kevin Kemp getting in on 54kg.
At the other end of the weight scale carrying 58kg is Sampson, a nine-year-old gelding prepared by Howard Mathews out of Otaki across the Tasman in NZ.
Drawn the outside alley in the 11 horse Ipswich Cup field, the evergreen veteran is currently stabled in Brisbane with trainer Desleigh Forster.
Sampson comes off a luckless run at Doomben from June 1 when over 11 lengths beaten by the winner Kenedna in the Group 2 PJ O’Shea Stakes (2200m).
He now chases his first win since the Listed NZ St Leger (2600m) back in mid-March.
Mathews, who is looking to set-up a permanent base in Queensland, is confident he has the horse in excellent order for an atoning run in the Ipswich Cup 2019.
Following the Ipswich Cup run, Mathews is hoping some rain in Brisbane will see ideal conditions for Sampson’s next-up assignment on a short seven-day turnaround into the Group 3 $200,000 Tattersall’s Cup (3000m) at Eagle Farm on Tatt’s Tiara Day.
“If we get a bit of rain between now and then, that’s when he’s got a really big chance – up over 3000m and back to Eagle Farm,” Mathews told the media this week.
“He’s going to measure up. He’s getting better and better physically as well as in his overall well-being in this weather.”
Before his 10th in the PJ O’Shea, Sampson had two lead-up runs down under.
He finished fourth behind Observational in a 2520m handicap at Flemington on ANZAC Day and a seventh when only 2.15 lengths beaten in a blanket finish behind Furrion in the Listed Warrnambool Cup (2350m).
“He went a huge race at Flemington,” Mathews said.
“He hadn’t had a run for five weeks and needed it. So, we backed him up seven days later in the Warrnambool Cup and it was a terrific run.
“To finish two lengths from the winner, we were very pleased with that.
“That gave us the encouragement to put him on a truck and come north.
“Things didn’t quite go our way in the PJ O’Shea Stakes but he has done very well since.”
Jockey Mark Du Plessis retains the ride on Sampson – bred by Warren Pegg who co-bred last weekend’s Queensland Guineas winner Kolding – and Mathews believes the wide barrier works in favour of his runner at the track.
“I’m glad he’s drawn where he has,” Mathews said.
“I’ve just told Mark to let him roll along and run his own race.
“His work this week has been fantastic. The Ipswich track is quite a tight, turning track but if he can roll along and relax he can run a really big race.”
The other New Zealand-trained horse in the mix on Saturday is Terra Sancta.
Prepared by Tony Pike of The Bostonian fame this winter, the Pierro mare is at $7.50 Ipswich Cup odds after drawing barrier four with Jim Byrne to ride.
All the top weekend racing odds and Ipswich Cup betting offers are now available through Ladbrokes.com.au.
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