Kim Waugh’s last start Civic Stakes winner...
After battling for top spot in The Gong 2019 betting earlier in the week, the John Sargent-trained Luvaluva has firmed into clear favourite to win the inaugural edition of the million-dollar feature at Kembla Grange this afternoon.
Sixteen gallopers take to the track in the first running of the $1 million The Gong (1600m), the last of the lucrative new editions to the wider Sydney Spring Racing Carnival recently introduced by Racing NSW.
Current The Gong odds at Ladbrokes.com.au list Mastercraftsman five-year-old Luvaluva as the one to beat at $4.80 after she firmed in from an opening quote of $6 earlier in the week.
Drawn ideally in gate five with Tim Clark to ride she is third-up and fit looking to improve on a last start fifth when under three lengths beaten at Rosehill on November 9 in the Group 2 $500,000 Hot Danish Stakes (1400m).
Luvaluva hasn’t won a race since the Group 2 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) back in April of 2018, but that hasn’t stopped the punters coming for her to win The Gong with the step-up to a mile to suit.
Occupying the second line of The Gong betting are two runners with one-time equal favourite El Dorado Dreaming and market mover Quackerjack both paying $6 to win.
Kris Lees’ four-year-old Ilovethiscity mare El Dorado Dreaming was a dual Group 1 placegetter in Sydney back in March and caught the eye when finishing a second-up third in the Hot Danish Stakes last time out.
She has had three previous runs over the distance for two thirds and from gate four with Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle, will be winding up late for another likely top three finish.
Quackerjack has work to do from a wider barrier 11 draw, but carrying just 52kg the Mark Newnham-trained Not A Single Doubt four-year-old will be flying home.
He has previous winning form at the track and a 50% winning strike rate over the distance, plus comes off the confidence-boosting Goulburn Cup win carrying 55.5kg to victory last time out on November 3.
“Quackerjack races forward and horses with his racing style I’m never too worried about wide barriers,” Newnham told The Daily Telegraph this week.
“Sometimes if you draw one you have to start them up a bit quick out of the barrier and they can get over-racing. If you don’t then they can get buried away on the fence.
“But Quackerjack’s style of racing is all about momentum. He goes a good gallop all the way, he’s not a sit-sprint type of horse.
“So, he will put himself in the first three and will enjoy having only 52kg on his back. He has never carried less than 55.5kg, which he shouldered to win the Goulburn Cup last start.”
The other single-figure hopes in The Gong odds are the Chris Waller-trained recent Epsom Handicap third-placegetter Star Of The Seas ($7) to be ridden by Glen Boss, in-form Bon Hoffa five-year-old Noble Boy ($7) in gate three and Team Snowden’s Epaulette four-year-old Military Zone ($7.50).
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