I watched the barrier draw live on Facebook this week for the $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup and only once could I hear a significant amount of noise from the people in the room.
It was when TAB’s Adam Hamilton – on behalf of Kevin Pizzuto and co. – drew barrier three for reigning Inter Dominion champ Tiger Tara.
Everyone in the room knew what that meant, hence the groans and gasps.
Thanks to a brilliant alley to begin from, and with most of his main rivals drawn out the back, this race is now Tiger Tara’s to lose. Perhaps it always was.
But, those who know enough know this – races are not run in function rooms or on pieces of paper. Everything beforehand means nothing until the arms fold back and the horses go for glory. Strange, strange things happen in horse races
Here’s how I see things;
DEL-RE NATIONAL A G HUNTER CUP (2760m, Group 1 $500,000)
3 Tiger Tara – It’s on his racquet. He’s led in the Victoria Cup and ID18 and destroyed similar fields to this. There’s a 99% chance he leads and from there his winning prospects are pretty close to certain. He’d need to go significantly below his best to see anything beating him, thanks largely to the way the barriers have dropped.
11 Thefixer – Disclaimer; he’s one of mine. I am a huge fan of this horse and I do think under the right circumstances he could actually breeze against Tiger and give him a run for his money. Beat him, perhaps not, but he is much tougher than we all think and we’ve already seen his blistering speed on display. His winning chances increase should he get the one-one but I still think he runs second from the breeze. I’d be tipping him with reversed barriers.
1 Our Uncle Sam – He’s not a real contender for mine. I loved his runs in ID18 but he is yet to win a good race in Victoria. Trailing Tiger Tara may not be as awesome as it seems either should Todd McCarthy get humming with over a lap to go. First four prospect for sure but not a winning commodity for me.
4 Buster Brady – Will go forward at the beginning and may be left in the breeze until horse 9-10-11 come around. His run at Ballarat was good but he also gave the winner the opening to pinch the race. He will be better at this level next season but as I have said before, the reason he is here is because he could not beat the good horses in NZ, what makes you think he will beat them here ?
6 San Carlo – Must go forward, must look for cover after that and must be within a few lengths entering the last half mile. He is simply not good enough to bully these horses nor is he fast enough to out-sprint them but he does have a nice combination of both assets. Somehow Bec Bartley needs to give him a chance to garner momentum chasing tiring horses. No meant feat.
8 Wrappers Delight – It’s been such an quick rise to this level for this guy that I am surprised to see him pop up here. He was comprehensively beaten last week but may have been a run short. The reason he’s in consideration here is the run he’ll get in transit – three back on the pegs and we know he does possess late speed.
9 Cruz Bromac – Where is this big fella exactly at… He looked dominant in the ID heats before racing only moderately in the final. Then, he was bullied by four-year-old Rackemup Tigerpie in the Ballarat Cup. Another second row draw here means he will need to make a mid-race move but his go in life at this level is speed so someone will need to tow him up.
10 Star Galleria – I’ve seen him take on the might of the All Stars time and time again, with very little success. His recent form in NZ had been concerning aside from a good run in the Auckland Cup. His debut in Oz was stunning, however, giving noted leader Wrappers Delight a handy head-start and reeling him in quite comfortably. He’s a speed horse who could be the one carted into proceedings at the right time. He will need plenty of luck but he’s a first four contender.
2 Flaming Flutter – Returned to some vintage form last week, running third in the Casey Classic behind Star Galleria and Wrappers Delight. Another beaut draw helps here but it’s unlikely he will get to the pegs and likely he will get shuffled back as the Kiwis start coming round.
5 Raukapuka Ruler – Came across from New Zealand as a horse I wanted to follow however his Aussie form has been below what I anticipated. Seeing him drop out badly in the Shirley Turnbull was alarming. And just last weekend he was beaten into eight position in a very moderate M1 race in Sydney. No hope.
7 Can’t Refuse – His run of handsome barriers comes to an end here which will also spell the end of him having any hope of featuring in the front half of the field. Too many others will roll forward so Matt Craven is almost certain to have to drop out the back and hope for a whole heap of good fortune.
3 Tiger Tara
10 Star Galleria
8 Wrappers Delight
R1: Major Occasion (2) from 3, 4, 8
R2: Maratei (10) from 5, 2, 8
R3: Born To Rocknroll (3) from 5, 6, 1
R4: Egodan (2) from 5, 4, 3
R5: Save Our Pennys (3) from 5, 1, 9
R6: Wardan Express (4) from, 1, 7, 12
R7: Tiger Tara (3) from 11, 10, 8
R8: Kualoa (5) from 2, 3, 8
R9: Pantzup (7) from 2, 5, 8
R10: He’s God’s Gift (9) from 11, 2, 5
Also up in western Sydney we see the Hondo Grattan Stakes for the four-year-olds looking for a spot in the $200,000 Chariots of Fire. Under-the-radar All Stars competitor Ashley Locaz struck with fury last week, coming from the back and winning in a slick 1:50 mile. He will be favourite this weekend from barrier one.
Victorian Rackemup Tigerpie will be his main rival (likely gate two) but will almost certainly need to sit outside the favourite to win. Both horses look likely to make the Chariots, whether they win or not.
Enjoy your weekend of racing.