By Doug Ryan
Two local trainers with five wins between them in the Old Boys Cup are again doing battle in Wauchope Jockey Club’s salute to former champion rugby league players in the 1800m race at its Beechwood Road track on Saturday.
But the hopes of Colt Prosser and Michael O’Neill will have to contend with some worthwhile visiting gallopers on the attractive five-race card on Royal Randwick’s $10million The TAB Everest day which will be shown live trackside.
Prosser won last year’s Laurie Family Old Boys Cup for Benchmark 45 Handicappers with classy retiring gelding Rigamarole which made it nine career wins and is relying on five-year-old mare Raining On Sunday which won its maiden at the track at the same meeting last year.
He also had a win with Firming whereas O,Neill has won three of the cups and a Woop Woop Cup with his 10yo gelding Xerxes Dream which was third in the cup last year.
Raining On Sunday won over 1600m at Taree about a month ago but ran last over 2012m at Port Macquarie last Saturday.
“She didn’t like the shifty ground and maybe the distance was too far,” Prosser said. “Her chances depend on the weather as she favours a reasonable track and the 1800m at home may suit her better.”
A heavy 8 track posted on Friday could put paid to her chances and if she is scratched then Casino Gift, trained at Cessnock by Max Boland, comes into contention as it handles the going. In-form Wauchope jockey Belinda Hodder, was tossed off Raining On Sunday at Grafton after the Wauchope win when the galloper flipped over backwards and she takes the mount.
The Mid North Coast’s leading apprentice jockey, Cejay Graham, takes a claim of 2kg and will ride Xerxes Dream which at its second start from a slight let-up was 8th in that 2012m race at Port and according to O’Neill “loves the Wauchope track where he has had four wins” and can handle wet conditions. “He needed the run at Port and will strip fitter.”
The strong Wyong stable of Damien Lane leads the visiting brigade and he is looking at an improved run from his six-year-old gelding Orlando Jack which was in winning form last preparation but in three runs since victory over 1600m at Tuncurry in January has found it difficult to recapture that form but has won in the wet.
“If he doesn’t perform in this cup company he will be moved on,” said Lane. “His run was okay last start (4.8 lengths behind Prince Roo over 1570m at Cessnock) and any give in the track will help. He is a dour staying type (had a third from one start at track) and I am not worried about the 1800m.”
Prosser and Lane have high hopes in other races on the card. Prosser is hoping for a winning run from 7yo mare Can’t Skate, a last start winner for local owner Heath Porter in the Kurt Doherty 100 Games Benchmark 50 Handicap over 1000m: “She is working fantastic and will put herself on to the speed.”
Lane’s best is five-year-old mare Black Comedy in the same race: “She drew wide last start,stayed deep and fought on well for her third.”
Both stables are worth following as are jockeys Hodder, Graham and her father, Peter Graham, many times dubbed as the “king” of the Wauchope track due to his excellent record of winners.
SELECTIONS RACE 1: Our Trolley Dolly 1, Robylucy 2, Outsnip 3. RACE 2: Can’t Skate 1, Black Comedy 2, Stoddart 3. RACE 3: Royal Duke 1, Shake Her Bob Bon 2, Harmony Breeze 3. RACE 4: Dark Elixir 1, Envision 2, Metre Eater 3. RACE 5: Orlando Jack 1, Raining On Sunday 2, Xerxes Dream 3.