By Mark Brassel
Local trainer Tim Donnelly believes handy stayer Esempio will relish “walking across the road” when she tackles the $30,000 Mountaineer Cup over the gruelling 2500m next Friday.
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“She ran at Warren in July then at Swan Hill and Newcastle in August so she’s had her fair share of travelling,” Donnelly said. “She had a freshen up before winning last time at home so the short journey to the course will work in her favour.”
Esempio put up a remarkable performance last start to narrowly win a Wagga 2000m event after being wide throughout and making a long 800m run to claim victory on the post.
“She’s a quirky type as she doesn’t like going inside horses so she will go back in the field and be wide – that’s the only way to ride her,” Donnelly admitted. “She also loves the soft ground and the 2500m will be ideal.”
The Mountaineer Cup is a heat of the Wagga Stayer Series and Esempio picked up 10 points for winning last start and currently sits equal third on the leader board. The series carries $10,000 in bonuses.
Rebeka Prest has been aboard the five-year-old at her past five starts and will again ride Esempio. However, Donnelly is seeking another jockey for stablemate Plenary who will compete in the Treasury Wine Estates Class 1 (1200m).
“Rebeka will most likely go on O’ So Hazy which she won on at Albury last time so I’m looking for another rider.”
Plenary, a three-year-old filly, powered home to score at Wagga (1400m) two starts back before a distant last to Willy White Socks over 1600m there in July and has not started since.
“She just can’t handle heavy tracks. Her jockey didn’t knock her around once he realised she was not picking up at all. Her only two bad runs have been on wet tracks.”
Donnelly trialled the filly last Saturday week and was pleased with her fifth over 1000m: “I was happy with her trial, she wasn’t asked to do much. She has plenty of ability and her maiden win at Wagga was against older horses and she found the line well.”
Friday’s Wagga meeting is a Racing NSW Country Showcase program with the feature the $35,000 Stan Sadleir Stakes (1400m) named in honour of one of the Riverina’s greatest racing administrators.
“Stan Sadleir was a Murrumbidgee Turf Club committeeman for 24 years and among many awards, received an Order of Australia Medal for his services to racing, war veterans, sport and the community,” said MTC’s CEO, Scott Sanbrook.
“Stan was also a decorated cricketer who played against Don Bradman in the 1930s, and passed away in 2010 on his 101st birthday. The Stan Sadleir Stakes is a prelude to the $70,000 Snake Gully Cup (1400m) at Gundagai on November 17 and the winner of that race is exempt from a ballot for the Snake Gully Cup.”