The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Country hoop Mathew Cahill is hoping Centover can provide him with his third Bathurst Cup win when he reunites with the John Holloman-trained galloper after a close last-start second at the start of the month.
Cahill, 42, has enjoyed two previous Bathurst Cup winning rides and will get his chance at a hat-trick on Sunday in the 2000m event offering $20,000 in stakes.
Cowra-born Cahill, who also boasts six wins in his home town Cup, won his first Bathurst Cup with On Deck in 1996 before his second came aboard Don Ryan in 2000.
Seven-year-old Over gelding Centover has been in good form this prep, their past five runs resulting in three seconds, a third and a fourth place finish.
Most recently Cahill rode Centover in the Gooree Mile Cup (1600m) where they finished a narrow second to Last Rain on May 1.
Although confident of Centover’s ability, Cahill remains wary of his long-term rival Greg Ryan who has the Bathurst Cup ride on Marc Conners’ Mossurmi.
Top-weight of the 11-horse Bathurst Cup field with 59.5kg, six-year-old Mossman gelding Mossurmi doesn’t boast quite the same good lead-up form as Centover.
They come into Sunday on the back of three unplaced runs this season including their last-start 10th in a mile handicap at Warwick Farm on May 15.
Still, Cahill is hesitant to discount the challenger on the base of Ryan’s reputation as the “best bush hoop in the business”, Ryan no doubt keen to score his maiden Bathurst Cup victory.
“Amazing,” Cahill said when informed that Ryan was yet to win a Bathurst Cup despite his long list of other cup victories and jockey premiership titles.
“That would be one of the few big cups Greg hasn’t won.
“Knowing Greg as I do, you can bet he’ll be very determined to right the record.
“I’m wary of him.”
The two boys from the bush have been battling it out on the country tracks for over 20 years.
Unsurprisingly, the horse that beat Cahill and Centover last start in the Gooree Mile Cup, Last Rain, was ridden by Ryan.
“Centover’s run in the Gorree Cup was very good,” Cahill said.
“He got back in a fast run race and at the furlong (200m) I thought he was going to win but his run may have peaked 50 metres short of the post.
“He fought on but levelled out.
“The big query is 2000 metres – I don’t think he’s won beyond 1600 metres.
“I’ll just have to ride him quiet, not go too early and save him for as long as I can.
“Since John’s had him, Centover’s form has been very consistent.
“He’s racing as well as ever.
“But the big question mark remains the 2000 metres.”
An added incentive for Ryan to perform well on Sunday is to win back-to-back features at Bathurst for Warwick Farm horseman Marc Conners after taking out the Soldier’s Saddle with the progressive Pimpala Secret on Anzac Day.
Three-year-old Pimpala Secret went on to win the Listed Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) just five days later, which was Ryan’s biggest success as a jockey to date.
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