By Ray Hickson
It’ll be like visiting a home away from home for handy mare Monegal when she ventures to the Sapphire Coast again on Sunday as trainer Theresa Bateup gives her the chance to defend her title in the $80,000 Bega Cheese Bega Cup (1600m) before another shot at stakes company.
The Kembla Grange trainer has the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) in mind for Monegal in three weeks so she said the race fits in nicely to her plans.
Since her Bega Cup win under 54.5kg last year, taking her record to four wins and a second from five starts at the track, Monegal has won two city races and Bateup said she’s not badly in at the weights with 59.5kg after the claim for apprentice Madison Waters.
“I thought she may get weighted out of it but we haven’t got in too bad considering what she’s done since she won the race last year,’’ Bateup said.
“We get a couple of kilos off for Maddie, it’s a shame she rode her 20th winner on Monday and we lost a kilo but that happens.”
Monegal is one of three runners for Bateup in the Bega Cup with Golly I’m Lucky making his Sapphire Coast debut and another track specialist Jarrett looking to regain form.
A winner at Kembla Grange’s The Gong meeting first-up, Monegal ran fifth in the Group 3 Belle Of The Turf Stakes at Gosford third-up before beating one home at Rosehill on January 16 in a run Bateup is happy to forget.
She’s not so concerned about the five-year-old drawing the outside alley, in fact all three drew double figure marbles, and believes on a rain affected track it could work in her favour.
“It’s a good run to the first turn, you have the whole length of the back straight and she will go back anyway,’’ she said.
“There does look to be genuine speed and we’re hoping they string out a little bit and Maddie can slot in midfield somewhere.
“She’s a cruisy little mare to ride. It was never the plan to go forward last start, we definitely won’t be going forward.
“It’s better drawn the extreme outside than a couple from the outside with the whole length of the back straight you have time to work out what’s going on.”
Golly I’m Lucky warmed up for the Bega Cup with a closing fourth behind Peyton Place in the Moruya Cup (1435m) on January 14 and Bateup has the fingers crossed that the track doesn’t sneak into the heavy range.
She said the gelding’s only attempt at 1600m was a complete forgive run and is upbeat about his chances.
“His run at Moruya was super, Tommy Berry came back and said ‘you’ve got this horse flying’," she said.
“You had to be on pace but at the same time Peyton Place went out there and ran the time.
“He just needs luck in running, I’m hoping for that good tempo where they run along and he can get into his comfort zone.”
Monegal wins the 2020 Bega Cup at Sapphire Coast
The form guide would lead you to believe that Jarrett, Bateup’s third starter, is something of a longshot given he’s beaten just one horse home in each of his three starts this time in.
But he’s been to the Sapphire Coast seven times for six wins and a second and Sunday will be the first time he’s tackled the track’s feature race.
“He’s won nearly every other Cup at Bega but he’s never actually started in the Bega Cup,’’ he said.
“He’s had nothing go his way this preparation.
“On paper it looks like he’s racing below his best, which in fairness he probably is a tad, but I’m hoping he will improve going back to Sapphire as he races well down there.’’
Bateup has three other runners on the second day of the Sapphire Coast’s carnival and marked Magico Hombre, who resumes in the Joseph Jones Racing & Belmont Handicap (1200m), as the best of them.