Waller caution on Newcastle Cup favourite

Waller caution on Newcastle Cup favouriteChris Waller is adamant The Verminator needs the sting out of the ground to post his second consecutive Country Cup success. The Verminator and veteran stayer Bellagio Wynn will be Waller’s two runners in the Group Three Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) on Thursday.

A five-year-old, The Verminator swept to victory last start on a good track in the Wyong Cup (2100m) but Waller said he was hoping for some give in the track come Thursday.

“I’m reluctant to run him on a good track because he does jar up,” Waller said.

“Hopefully the track will be dead … apparently they had some rain (in Newcastle) on Sunday night.

“It can dry out quickly up there, especially this time of the year but hopefully there is plenty of grass on it and we might get away with the right surface because he’s going very well.”

The Verminator began his current campaign in April and the Newcastle Cup will be the 10th start of his preparation.

But he continues to race in great heart and notched consecutive third placings at Rosehill before his Wyong Cup success.

Top weight Ironstein and emergency Rodeo Playboy are early scratchings, bringing The Verminator into barrier eight of 15.

Bellagio Wynn has drawn immediately to the inside of his stablemate but Waller admits he needs to turn his form around.

The eight-year-old has disappointed in two runs since his eye-catching first-up third to Foreteller in the Winter Challenge in July.

“Unfortunately with him the time’s coming where he is getting near the end of his career,” Waller said.

“He has shown throughout his career he is really a 2000-metre horse but he’s lost that bit of dash and this sort of race is the only type he’s really competitive in now.”

Wyong Cup placegetters Essence Of Success and Gazza Guru will again clash with The Verminator at Newcastle and Stephen Farley, trainer of Gazza Guru, is upbeat about his chances.

“He’s racing in the best form of his career and the bigger track and the light weight (53kg) will suit him,” Farley said.

Despite Waller’s concerns, The Verminator kept his place at the top of TAB Sportsbet’s Cup market on Wednesday at $4.

He shades Essence Of Success ($4.50) and the Victorian-trained stayer Green Moon ($5.50).

Nick Hall will miss the ride on the Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon due to illness with the mount going to Brenton Avdulla.