The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Last start winner of the Rowley Mile, Keepin’ The Dream is looking to continue their good form as they seek back-to-back wins in the Scone Cup this Friday.
There were 33 early entries for the $175,000 Listed Emirates Park Scone Cup (1600m) this year, including the Jim and Greg Lee-trained six-year-old Keepin’ The Dream.
A gallant gelding boasting a handful of provincial Cup victories, including a narrow win over Snow Alert in the 2010 Scone Cup, Keepin’ The Dream scored their seventh career success at Hawkesbury on April 30 when claiming an upset in the $150,000 Listed Rowley Mile (1600m).
Next-up is the Scone Cup on Friday and Keepin’ The Dream will likely start much shorter in the odds than the punters got them at for the Rowley.
“Scone’s a lovely big track and it suits this horse,” Jim Lee said.
“I’ve got no doubt he is going into the Scone Cup in better form this year than he did before he won the race 12 months ago.
“He’s absolutely flying and I think he has improved further since he won the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury.
“He ran fourth in the Rowley Mile last year and then won at Scone and, as I said, he’s in better form now.
“If he comes through the scone Cup in good order, we might look at Brisbane for the winter carnival.”
The other previous Scone Cup winner nominated again this year is the Jeff Englebrecht-trained warhorse Newton’s Rings.
A rising 11-year-old, Newton’s Rings took out the 2008 Scone Cup and success on Friday will see them become just the third horse in history to win multiple editions of the race.
The only two runners to achieve more than one Scone Cup win were Bridge Man (1981 – 82) and Brave Prince (2000 – 01).
Friday’s Scone Cup meeting is the opening of the two-day racing carnival at Scone and Racing New South Wales was pleased with the high number of entries from some of the country’s leading trainers including Sydney’s Chris Waller and Peter Snowden.
“We have had a great show of support from the leading Sydney stables and it is very satisfying that they are prepared to bring their top horses to the country,” Scone Race Club’s chief executive Helen Sinclair said.
“It is also satisfying that so many provincial and country stables have supported us as well.
“The response to both days shows we are on the right track with a two-day carnival.
“This allows us to cater for just about every class of horse and that is borne out with the number and quality of nominations.”
For the Scone Cup Snowden has nominated two runners for the Darley operation with Lonhro mare Dysphonia and Emancipation Stakes third placegetter Shannara, while Waller is seeking a win in the feature with Foreteller and last year’s runner-up Snow Alert.
Other leading Scone Cup nominees include John Thompson’s Encosta De Lago six-year-old Tagus and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Group 2 Ajax Stakes winner Pureness, who is equal topweight with Keepin’ The Dream allocated 58kg.
Meanwhile Cessnock-based trainer Todd Howlett is hoping a firmer track will be the trick to getting his Scone Cup hopeful Star Of Octagonal back in the winner’s stall.
Wet tracks have marred the recent campaigns of the Octagonal four-year-old who enjoyed a stunning start to their career last year winning three of their opening six races including the $750,000 Inglis Scone Guineas (1600m) in May of 2010.
Howlett has his fingers crossed that an improved performance from Star Of Octagonal on Friday can kick-start a possible tilt at the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) and another bumper pay day during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
“The wet tracks have gone against him this campaign but I’m more than happy with how his going into the race,” Howlett said.
“He is on a similar preparation to last time, it’s just that the wet tracks have stopped him.
“But I haven’t been unhappy with him.
“He’s a nice relaxed horse and he hasn’t taken any harm from running on those tracks.
“I’m about an hour from Scone and we have hardly had any rain up here at all so I’m sure the track will be perfect.
“I have nominated him for the Stradbroke so we’ll see what happens.”
The other premier event on at Scone this Friday is the $100,000 Scone Quality Handicap (1100m) that also drew 33 nominees topped by Group 1 The Galaxy winner Atomic Force and New South Wales Country Horse of the Year Border Rebel.
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