By Chris Scholtz
Australia’s leading trainers Chris Waller and James Cummings head a big list of top metropolitan stables taking aim at next week’s Grafton Cup carnival.
Waller is hoping to end his Grafton Cup drought with two entries for next Thursday’s $165,000 McMullan Contracting Grafton Cup (2350m), a race that has been an elusive goal for him over the last decade.
Waller has sent 11 horses to Grafton for the Grafton Cup since he had his first starters in the Listed race in 2009 but has come up short with just two minor placings in 2014 (second with Secessio) and 2017 (third with Montauk).
He is set for another crack next week with the import Exoteric and consistent Vaucluse Bay, a pair currently based at his Gold Coast stable, among the 19 nominations received on Thursday for the Grafton Cup.
Godolphin trainer James Cummings does not have a Grafton Cup entry but is set two play a lead hand across the two feature days of the carnival on Wednesday and Thursday with a total of five nominations.
They include rising sprinter Haunted in Wednesday’s $165,000 Grafton District Services Club Ramornie Handicap (1200m).
Cummings has made only one visit to the Grafton carnival since he took charge of the powerful Godolphin stable two years ago, starting the unplaced pair Badajoz and Mogador in the 2017 Ramornie won by Calanda.
His other entries for next week’s carnival are the promising three-year-olds Phaistos and Waka in Wednesday’s $80,000 Tursa Grafton Guineas (1600m); Soothing for Thursday’s $50,000 Sir James Kirby Quality (1000m); and Handspun in the $50,000 Mother’s Gift (1400m) on Thursday’s program.
Other notable entries for the Ramornie Handicap and Grafton Cup include:-
• Kiwi mare Igraine and the Ciaron Maher/David Eustace-trained Sopressa – first and second in last Saturday’s Caloundra Cup – are nominated for the Grafton Cup.
• Other Grafton Cup entries include the last start winners He Eksels, Primitivo, Sacred Day, Protest and Happy Go Plucky.
• Leading NSW stables represented in the Ramornie Handicap include Gerald Ryan (Albumin); Greg Hickman (Top Striker); Jason Deamer (Bon Amis); Clare Cunningham (Cradle Mountain); John Thompson (Camdus), Gary Portelli (Single Bullet); Kris Lees (Intrinsic), Matt Dunn (Care To Think; Bring It Home Pop); Brett Cavanough (Star Boy) and Graeme Murray (Rafha’s Choice).
• The Queensland entries are led by last year’s Ramornie winner Havasay from the Toby Edmonds stable. The Gold Coast trainer has also nominated Whypeeo and Keen Array.
• Other Queensland trainers with Ramornie Handicap entries include Tony Gollan (Ef Troop); Chris Munce (Smartypy; Snoopy); Les Kelly (Freddie Fox Trot); Michael Costa (Manaya); and John Smerdon (Removal).
Final acceptances for the Ramornie Handicap and Grafton Cup will be declared at 9am on Monday.
The barrier draws for the Ramornie and Grafton Cup will take place at 11am at the Grafton Carnival Sportsman’s Luncheon at Grafton Racecourse.