By Tony Megahey
Bargain buy Coolcat Dancer is amongst the most spectacular improvers in country racing as he rises to Sunday’s $200,000 Listed Canberra Cup (2000m).
Coolcat Dancer, a modest $10,000 purchase at the Inglis yearling sales, has been dominant on a four race winning streak, including the Canberra Cup Prelude, and Bega and Moruya Cups in recent weeks.
Braidwood trainer Richard Clarke and his regional owners are under no illusions as they confront performed stayers from the Freedman brothers’ stable, Gerald Ryan, Gary Moore and the Waterhouse and Bott stables.
The attraction for Coolcat Dancer’s connections for a steep class rise is that he drops to the 54kg minimum after lumping 61kg to a powerful win in the Cup prelude.
The Canberra Cup is the strongest in years, with Ryan’s Group 3 winner Red Excitement top weight with 62kg, listed winners, Moore’s Classic Uniform (56kg), the Freedmans’ Cool Chap (54kg) and the Waterhouse and Bott’s last start Randwick winner Dark Eyes (54kg).
“We sure respect what we’re up against, but we won’t die wondering- this horse deserves a crack in this grade,” Clarke enthused.
“Of course it’s far tougher with so much quality, but he’s been amazing for us and no weight and a good barrier is a bonus.
“He came from near last in the prelude but he’s capable of positioning a lot closer. We’ll leave that up to Grant Buckley though, he’s ridden him for four straight now.”
A spectacular $300,000, Group Three Black Opal Stakes will again impact heavily on Golden Slipper favouritism as it includes brilliant Magic Millions two-year-old winner Houtzen, the Snowden’s Khan, unbeaten Victorian Jukebox and the Godolphin’s Trekking. The Hayes-Dabernig’s Catchy firmed in markets after another impressive win in the Group One Blue Diamond at Caulfield last Saturday.