The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
War Baby has continued to impress her Beaudesert-based trainer Kelvin Hickmott over her surprise winter campaign that continues with a Grafton Cup 2017 run this Thursday in New South Wales.
Hickmott could never have imagined his five-year-old daughter of Warhead would be racing against the season’s class stayers when she first kicked off her campaign.
“I never thought at the beginning of her campaign she’d be running in Group and Listed races over the carnival and being competitive at that level,” Hickmott told Racing NSW this week.
“She’s always had ability but has just improved so much this campaign – I just put it down to natural improvement with maturity.”
The mare has gone from strength-to-strength however and has now earned a crack at the $160,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m), which will likely see out her prep.
War Baby first entered winter racing calculations when running away for a six and a half length win at Ipswich in the $100,000 Provincial Winter Stayers Final (2150m) on June 17.
From there Hickmott threw her in the deep end, taking her to Doomben Racecourse over the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival for a Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup (2200m) run.
In a small seven starter field War Baby more than held her own, finishing just over a half-length back third behind Rudy and More Energy.
Last start she went up to the mile and a half at the Sunshine Coast in the Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m) on July 1.
Again, War Baby raced better than her odds suggested when only two lengths back third behind the flying Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained winner Supply And Demand.
A fortnight on and Supply And Demand, going up from 55.5kg to 58.5kg, is the clear $3 favourite in the Grafton Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au to post his fourth win on the trot.
Occupying the fourth line of Grafton Cup betting at a generous double-figure quote of $10 is War Baby drawn in gate 10 with jockey Larry Cassidy continuing his association with the in-form mare.
“She’s just been flying in recent weeks and has probably improved about six lengths in that time,” Hickmott said.
Supply And Demand may be rising in the weights, but Hickmott’s stable ace is well-weighted again staying on the 54kg minimum.
She has also been accepted for the Listed Queensland Cup (3200m) over the two miles at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, but the Grafton Cup is her primary target despite Hickmott having preferred a softer track.
“Up until recently her best form had always been on wet tracks but she ran probably her best race ever in the Tatts Cup two runs back on a good track when she sat outside the leader and Rudy had the last crack at her,” he said.
Along with Supply And Demand, the other major player in this year’s Grafton Cup is the Chris Waller-trained Montauk ($4.80).
Hickmott has a healthy respect for both gallopers out of Sydney’s top stables, but also hasn’t discounted the chances of $16 market mover Allzin from the Wauchope stables of Graham Hoy.
“Obviously, you always have to fear Gai and Chris Waller in these feature races, but I also respect Allzin who beat us fair and square at the Sunshine Coast and we meet him 4kg worse in Thursday’s race,” Hickmott said.
Allzin saluted over 2200m on June 4 at Caloundra carrying 59kg in a race War Baby, with 55.5kg on her back, finished five lengths back third in.
All going well, Hickmott plans to head south over the spring racing carnival to target some mares’ only races with War Baby in the coming months.
To back War Baby at the right price on Grafton Cup Day 2017 visit Ladbrokes.com.au.
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