By Julieanne Horsman
The 2016 Dubbo Gold Cup didn’t go Zarlu’s way but he’s back again this year for another crack at the $60,000 country feature.
The eight-year-old gelding, trained by Peter J Morgan at Wagga, is enjoying one of the best preparations of his career and hasn’t finished outside the top three in his last three starts.
“He’s going really well at the moment,” Morgan said. “He does plenty of work, he’s a tough fella. We haven’t done anything out of the ordinary with him but we are happy with where he is at.”
Zarlu was impressive at his most recent start on his home track last month. Lumping 62kg, he flew home from the back of the field to pinch the 1600m Benchmark 65 Handicap from Hangin’ With Willy, who went on to win his next start at Gundagai. “That was a very good effort to beat them carrying that much weight,” Morgan said. “He won’t know himself on Sunday with only 55kg.”
Three weeks prior, he was denied back-to-back Forbes Cups by less than a head, barreling home from 11th at the 400m to cross the line in 2nd place.
“Another couple of strides and we would have got there,” Morgan said. “It happens when you’re a back marker and give them a head start.”
Zarlu will again get back and run home late in Sunday’s 1600m Dubbo Gold Cup and Morgan is leaving it up to jockey Mathew Cahill to decide when to push the ‘go’ button.
“He’s got no early pace so he will just bowl along at the back but I trust Mathew to judge the speed of the race and get him going when he needs to,” he said.
“It looks like a pretty good race to me and the top few are going to be hard to beat.
“It was hoping for a bit of rain but it doesn’t look like we will get it now.
“I’m not over confident but I am hopeful of a good result and it’s not every day you get to race for $60,000 in the bush.”
The Gold Cup is the feature event of Dubbo’s biggest day of racing all year, with $330,000 in prizemoney on offer across the nine-race program.
Among the other highlights is the inaugural $50,000 NSW Picnic Champion Final which had more than twice the number of nominations than starting places.