Rileys chance to create history
Grafton raised Melbourne trainer Mark Riley has the opportunity to create a unique piece of history when he saddles up Gold In Dubai in tomorrow’s $150,000 Wyke’s Tyrepower Grafton Cup (2350m).
As a jockey Riley won the 1978 Ramornie, first leg of the Clarence River Jockey Club’s feature double, aboard Mistress Anne for his father, Martin Riley.
Since 1917, no Ramornie winning rider has ever gone on to train a Grafton Cup winner.
The Rileys already share another piece of history, both training winners of the Group One Oakleigh Plate in Melbourne, Martin with Mistress Anne in 1979 and Mark with Mookta in 1993.
Martin Riley, 78, still resides in the Northern Rivers at seaside Yamba.
While not trained in Grafton, Gold In Dubai would provide the Rileys with a home town win of sorts.
“This is the best chance I’ve ever had to win a Grafton Cup,” Riley suggested. “I went to school in Grafton, rode for dad.
“To come home and win the race would be unbelievable.
“We‘re in with a very good chance”
Gold In Dubai, a five-year-old by Desert Sun, has blossomed since campaigning in Queensland during the winter carnival, especially since being stepped up in distance.
Two starts back, thanks to a bold front running ride by New Zealand jockey Michael Walker, Gold In Dubai won the Ipswich Cup (2150m) on June 18 then did all the hard work in front again before finishing a short neck second to cup rival Spechenka in the Caloundra Cup (2400m) on July 2.
Riley believed the gelding was slightly unlucky not to score a cups double at the Sunshine Coast.
“On the wet track up there I don’t think he got in the right lane in the straight,” Riley said. “He didn’t lie down. Kept fighting all the way to the line where he was still going strong.”
Riley believes the five-time winner has just started to season after beginning this preparation on virtually a sprinter’s preparation.
“He’s coming off a sprinter’s preparation to that of a stayer, without the normal groundwork,” Riley said. “I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s going. He’s learned to stretch his legs over 2400 metres.
“I’m rapt in the barrier (four) and he’s done enormous since the Caloundra Cup, worked sensational up there.”
Until last year when he briefly caught up with his brother, Riley had not been to a Grafton carnival for 30 years.
He believes next preparation Gold In Dubai could even turn into a genuine Caulfield-Melbourne cup contender if trained accordingly.
The Chris Waller-trained The Verminator (Gly Schofield) heads cup markets and his recent Sydney form plus the Waller factor, entitles him to be rated a strong chance.