Weir sweating on Cup penalty for Leica Ding
Ballarat trainer Darren Weir will be banking on a Melbourne Cup penalty for Leica Ding after she gave him his best win in the Group Three Geelong Cup.
Weir, who trained She’s Archie to run second in both the 2003 Geelong and Melbourne Cups, denied Bart Cummings his first Geelong Cup win when Leica Ding ($13) stormed down the centre of the track to beat Dandaad ($10) by a long neck.
New Zealander Sterling Prince ($6 fav) looked set to win halfway up the straight when he surged to the front but in a blanket-finish was a short head away third.
With 50kg, Leica Ding was 67th in order of elimination for the Melbourne Cup before the Geelong Cup but has now passed the ballot clause.
Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter will decide overnight whether to penalise Leica Ding for the Melbourne Cup but said as little as a half-kilogram would promote her at least as high as 32 and virtually assure her of a Cup start.
The last three Geelong Cup winners, Bauer (2008), The Fuzz (2007) and Mandela (2006) were all penalised a kilogram.
Weir said Leica Ding lacked the class of She’s Archie but geared her campaign towards winning the Geelong or Moonee Valley Cup to get a way into Melbourne Cup after she finished fourth to Good Red in the Bagot Handicap (2800m), in her first preparation, on New Year’s Day.
"She’s Archie was a really great stayer and we probably never saw the best of her while this mare is a really genuine and never runs a bad race," he said.
A five-year-old mare, Leica Ding was having her 17th start in Wednesday’s Geelong Cup and has now won six races.
At her last two runs she was third to Toorak Handicap winner Allez Wonder at Moonee Valley and second at the same track to Keeping Score on October 9.
She started at $13 in the Geelong Cup and on the advice of one his owners Weir removed blinkers from her gear and replaced them with winkers.
Weir said the plan was to ride Leica Ding off the pace and Danny Nikolic, who had earlier won the Geelong Classic on backmarker Southern Skye, was masterful.
Nikolic said he was unsure if Leica Ding could go one better than She’s Archie in the Melbourne Cup but believes that Weir is capable of getting the best out of her.
"Darren is very good with these stayers and gets them 100 per cent fit," Nikolic said.
In a ride reminiscent of Brad Rawiller’s on Viewed in the Caulfield Cup, Nikolic was last early on Leica Ding and edged up along the rails to the home turn.
"On straightening I thought she had the race won," Nikolic said.
"I had spent no petrol during the run, got a really good run from the 1000 metres to the turn and when I peeled off their backs she stayed the trip very solidly."
Clare Lindop said Dandaad’s run was a great trial for the Melbourne Cup but now 67th in order of elimination he needs to pass the ballot clause.
"The horse is going really well and (Melbourne) Cup distance isn’t going to be a worry for him," Lindop said.
Godolphin’s Crime Scene put himself into the race on the home turn but he was soon under pressure and finished sixth, just ahead of the Luca Cumani-trained Basaltico who ran on from last to finish seventh.
"He (Crime Scene) had his chance but levelled out the last furlong (200m)," jockey Kerrin McEvoy said.
Luca Cumani, who won the Geelong Cup last year, was hoping to emulate the feat with Basaltico but jockey Damien Oliver could not get a position on the horse.
"He couldn’t keep up early but ran on really well," Oliver said.
By Robert Windmill