By Neil Evans
It’s always up for debate, but Thursday’s feature Showcase $150,000 Carlton Draught Coffs Harbour Cup looms as one of the strongest ‘Big Banana’ showdowns in years.
With a strong mix of country, provincial and metropolitan-trained visitors, along with the inevitable Queensland raiders, the country classic over a mile threatens to ignite several form-lines that can carry punters deep into the spring in several directions.
And fresh from a record number of nominations, one of the wider betting markets in Cup history will be music to punters’ ears.
Last year, via a race-winning move on the turn from veteran jockey Glen Boss, Warwick-based five-year-old Love Shack Baby held off Brisbane galloper Looks Like Elvis and Victorian visitor Curragh.
But with even more depth on show in this year’s field of 16, a few out in the market boast solid claims.
One of those is tough Rosehill eight-year-old Zaunkonig ($13 on TAB) who has had a little freshen-up since missing by a whisker in heavy ground at the Sunshine Coast.
That was behind Prometheus who then scored an impressive Class 6 win at Eagle Farm on Saturday, and he drops in weight and draws the inside for this race.
But at the weights, and on the score of timing, a lightly raced front-running six-year-old is the one to beat. Jazzland ($7), from the Kristen Buchanan yard at Wyong, boasts a near 50% winning strike rate from only 16 starts, and comes off a tough win in the South Grafton Cup under 59kg.
Given that was only his second run since last December, Jazzland is still peaking this prep, and from a cosy draw gets another chance to dominate up top and lead them home.
And with sunny weather predicted in the days leading up, a likely Soft 5 suits ideally for this gelding and his big team of owners.
Certainly, top-weight Sikandarabad ($5.50), who comes off a solid run in the Listed Winter Challenge at Rosehill, has the arduous task of carting 60kg from the outside barrier; while it doesn’t get much easier for smart Gold Coast pair La Pulga ($14) and The Kingdom ($6.50) who both rise in weight and are drawn off the track.
COFFS CUP TIPS
1. JAZZLAND; 2. Zaunkonig; 3. Top Prospect; 4. The Kingdom.