Trainer happy to just be in the Cup
STEVE Danvers reckons the only way Nortepoppy can win the Grafton Cup is if it does a “Steven Bradbury.”
The part-owner was basking in the sun after the five-year-old gelding won the Skyracing TV Benchmark 50 Handicap on Sunday but according to Danvers the Grafton Cup will be a different story altogether.
“It was a fantastic run on Sunday and it's a great feeling having a runner in the Cup,” Danvers told the Examiner during the week.
“But realistically the only way he can win the Cup is to do a Steven Bradbury...hope all the other horses fall down in front of him.”
The five-year-old gelding, which was named by former owner Peter Lawrence's granddaughter, will be at juicy odds. But trainer Alan Ryan said just having his first runner in the Cup was something special.
“It's the first horse I've trained which will run in a Grafton Cup,” Ryan said
“It's a pretty good feeling and I'm sure I'll get a bit nervous on race day.”
Nortepoppy will enter the Cup 6kg lighter than it carried in the Benchmark Handicap over 2100m and Ryan believes his promising stayer will have no problem running the trip
“The 2350m won't be a problem. But he's up against a better class of horse and they'll probably go a bit harder,” he said.
“We'll just let the jockey see how the horse goes at the start. We won't be bustling for a position...just let him run the race how he likes.
“He won out of barrier 11 on Sunday and he's drawn barrier 12 in the Cup. I'm expecting the speed up front to be a lot faster.
“But he only knows one way to race.” Ryan was full of praise for his jockey Matthew McGuren who rode Nortepoppy to victory in the Benchmark but revealed Dale Spriggs will be aboard in today's feature race.
“Matty rode the horse brilliantly the other day but he can't make the weight for the Cup so we've got Dale Spriggs,” Ryan said.
“Matt grew up in the saddle. His father was a campdrafter and Matty was a junior Australian buck jumping champion.
“After the ride the other day, Rex Kelly, who was a former top jockey himself, said out of a rating of 10 Matt's ride was a twenty.
“A lot of local trainers told me after the race just how good they thought the ride was and some of the visiting trainers sat up and took notice.”
Part-owner and colourful racing identity Keith Gregor said having a runner in the Cup was something he's dreamed of since he developed an interest in the racing game.
“It's a sensational feeling,” he said. “It probably can't win but it's a big thrill to have your horse in such a prestigious race.
“Hopefully the trainer will let us know how the horse is going. He told me before Sunday's race it couldn't win so I took his advice and didn't have any money on it.”
Another local horse entered in the Cup is the Joanna Methven-trained King of the Nile.
Owned by the Moorehead family from Grafton, King of the Nile was a fast finishing third to Desert Bunny in the Grafton Cup Prelude last Thursday.