By Ray Hickson
Third to Kolding and Quackerjack – not bad form when it comes to a Class 3 Highway!
That’s exactly what’s sitting alongside Cody Morgan’s lightly raced Galapagos in the form guide ahead of Saturday’s Rosehill meeting and the Tamworth trainer is bullish about it standing up.
Of course, following that race on May 25, last weekend Kolding scored a dominant Group 2 Queensland Guineas win and Quackerjack beat holder horses carrying a big weight.
A winner of one race from six starts, Galapagos wasn’t eligible for a Highway until he’d had three runs for Morgan and that’s why he was thrown in the deep end.
“I went down there thinking he would run top three,’’ he said.
“He’ll probably be favourite but if he goes as well as I think he does I’m quite comfortable with it.
“Luke Murrell (from Australian Bloodstock) suggested we go to town last start because if we were going to win a race it might as well be a $125,000 race.
“And the owners had a really good day, they were stoked, they backed him at $20 the place.’’
Galapagos ran his last 600m in that race in 33.81 (Punter's Intelligence), just 0.04 slower than the winner Kolding.
Leading apprentice Robbie Dolan retains the ride on Galapagos in the TAB Highway (1500m), where he'll carry just 54kg, and Morgan said the gelding continues to improve and is looking forward to seeing what he can do when he steps out further in distance later on.
“His work has been really good and with even luck he will be very hard to beat,’’ he said.
“I reckon he will run 2000m but there’s no concern about that at this point. I would be more confident than when I took Moobi down there (in December).’’
As comfortable as Morgan is with the form around Galapagos capturing attention he sends a strong warning not to overlook stablemate Pat’s Nipper.
The four-year-old has won three races from 10 starts and finished a closing third in a 1400m Benchmark 70 at Newcastle on May 28.
“If I took Galapagos out of the equation Pat’s Nipper has beaten Burning Crown, then he’s been beaten half a length at Newcastle,’’ Morgan said.
“That’s normally pretty good form in itself. He looks better and has worked better this week than when he went to Newcastle, as well as when he beat Burning Crown.
“In a Highway Burning Crown would start favourite.
“I’d have to have a leaning towards Galapagos at the weights. But on the way they’ve worked and how they have pulled up after their gallops there’s not much between them.’’
The Grafton carnival beckons Morgan’s other Rosehill runner, recent Scone Cup placegetter Goldstream in the Tab.com.au Handicap (1800m).
Galapagos runs third to Kolding at Randwick on May 25
He said the former Italian galloper is being set for next month’s Grafton Cup and says while he’s not expecting a win at Rosehill he is looking for a positive run after failing to beat a runner home behind Asterius two weeks ago.
“He needs consistent racing so his mind is in the right head space,’’ he said.
“He’s won a Wellington Cup and been Listed placed this time in so it has been a good prep.
“He was caught wide and over raced there last start, he will run a lot better but I don’t see him being a winning chance until he gets to Grafton.’’
What Morgan’s three runners this weekend have in common is they are what he describes as a by-product of prizemoney increases and other initiatives in country racing.
Two of them carry the Australian Bloodstock colours and the other, Pat’s Nipper, has come to him via Neil Werrett.
“I think they would have three quarters of my stable between them,’’ Morgan said.
“I want to repay their faith, without Racing NSW putting on the Country Championships and the Highway races I probably wouldn’t have horses for either. That’s reality.’’