By Ray Hickson
Success over a mile has so far eluded dashing front-runner Peyton Place but trainer Greg Stephens is confident that will all change next Sunday as he eyes his first Bega Cup.
It’ll be the first time the five-year-old, an impressive all the way winner of the Moruya Cup earlier this month, has contested a race on his home track in the 20 starts since he joined the Sapphire Coast trainer’s team.
So what better platform to prove any doubters wrong at his ability to run a strong mile than in the $80,000 Bega Showcase Cup (1600m) feature with regular jockey Chad Lever making the trip south to take the ride.
“We’re very confident with him,’’ Stephens said.
“It’s his first start on his home track would you believe, we’ve had him for about 16 months and he’s been so consistent. He’s always worked really well at home and he showed at Moruya he wasn’t stopping over the 1435m.
“I think because he’s so tough he gets through the real bog tracks but as he proved the other day he goes on a good track too.
“Chad thinks he can run a mile and I think he can.”
Peyton Place has had two attempts at 1600m for Stephens, both at Kembla Grange.
Peyton Place wins the Moruya Cup on January 14
He ran fourth in a TAB Highway at the inaugural The Gong meeting in 2019 and the other was back in September where he ran sixth on a day the wind played havoc with leaders and the meeting was abandoned after his race.
“You can’t judge him off that,’’ Stephens said.
“Without the five hour journey to Kembla Grange, where he’s only raced at the mile, hopefully he will have a bit more petrol in the tank.
“He’s going really well, he’s a very nice horse and has a lot of ability but you have to strike the right races and right tracks and everything goes well.”
Stephens is preparing to have five runners across the two days of the popular Sapphire Coast carnival, that’s half the horses he has listed under his care, but Peyton Place is clearly the headline act.
“We’ve got a small team but we always had this in mind for him,’’ he said.
“We were hoping Garros would go to the (Bega Cup) too but he’s shown he wants further.”
Garros will take his place in the $50,000 Sapphire Coast Cup (2200m) on the back of his closing fourth at the Moruya Cup meeting, he’ll run Monterey Magic and St Anton in a Benchmark 58 event over 1400m while on Saturday maiden galloper Russian Missile will be out to post his first win as he steps out to 1600m.