Brisbane trainer David Murphy would have preferred a touch of rain this week, but still believes his former Victorian galloper Bel Burgess ($13 on TAB fixed odds) can spring a surprise in Friday’s $38,000 The Riverview Hotel Murwillumbah Cup (1530m).
Eagle Farm-based Murphy has only had the six-year-old under his care for his past two starts and warned punters his recent Brisbane form is better than it looks on paper.
Bel Burgess was a very capable performer in Victoria for trainer Michael Roebuck, winning six of his 25 starts in the south. Bel Burgess won four straight races between February and April in 2017, including victories at Moonee Valley and Sandown.
He then finished second to Burning Front in the $250,000 VOBIS Gold Mile (1600m) at Caulfield on April 22 last year, then in November took out the $90,000 Wodonga Cup (1590m).
More recently, Bel Burgess ran third to Riyadh and Jacquinot Bay over 1600m at Caulfield on May 12.
Bel Burgess joined Murphy’s stable soon after when part-owner Col Walsh decided to send him north to race.
Bel Burgess finished last of 10 behind Natch (beaten 7.5 lengths) over 1350m at Doomben on July 21 then finished sixth (beaten 6.5 lengths) behind Shogun Sun and Natch, again over 1350m at Doomben on August 4.
“He definitely needed the run in his first start for me and his effort last time was a lot better than it probably looks on paper,” said Murphy. “He drew wide, took a while to cross them and spent a lot of juice.
"Shogun Sun and Natch drew away at the finish but Bel Burgess was still there with the others until the 50m. With a better draw, he probably runs third to Shogun Sun, who’s a very good horse and ran a great race in Sydney (a close second to Kaonic) last week. Jeff Lloyd was also ‘pinged’ by stewards for not riding Bel Burgess right out at the finish.
“Bel Burgess has definitely improved since his last run and his work on Tuesday was very good. He steps up to the 1530m of the Murwillumbah Cup which is ideal and he’s drawn perfectly (barrier two). I wouldn’t want the track too firm for him on Friday and a bit of rain would have helped. He doesn’t need a wet track, just a bit of sting out of it.
“The key to him is he needs to lead and if he can bowl along in front I think he’ll be hard to beat on Friday. He only has to reproduce his best Victorian form and he’d be too good for them in my opinion.”
Murphy has booked talented Northern Rivers apprentice Leah Kilner to partner Bel Burgess in Friday’s race where he will carry 59.5kg after her 2kg allowance. Bel Burgess could progress to the $65,000 Ballina Cup (1600m) on September 6 if he races up to Murphy’s expectations at Murwillumbah.
The horse to beat in the Murwillumbah Cup looks to be the locally-trained galloper Zamex ($4), winner of two of his past four starts, including the Maclean Cup (1400m) at Grafton on July 15. Non-claiming apprentice Clayton Gallagher rides the Matt Dunn-trained Zamex, who drew the inside gate.
Gold Coast trainer Bruce Hill could have three runners in the race – Bodega Nera ($14), Liberty Island ($11) and Hotel Coste (1st emergency, $6). Hill also had three runners in last year’s race with Liberty Island finishing fourth, Bodega Nera (6th) and Winning Accord (7th) behind Anne Bonny.
The Owen Glue-trained Anne Bonny ($71) backs up again this year, but her chances haven’t been helped with an outside draw. Friday’s eight-race meeting also features the $28,000 Murwillumbah Newmarket Hcp (1200m).