Pillar of Hercules draws well for Crystal Mile
Peter Moody’s wish for a good draw for Pillar Of Hercules was granted when he came up with gate three in Saturday’s Jayco Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley.
The Rock of Gibraltar four-year-old has drawn double-figure barriers in the past six Group One races he has contested, but with the drop in grade to Group Two level and the favourable draw he gets his chance for his first win in just over a year.
Pillar Of Hercules’ last win was in the Group Three Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) on Caulfield Cup day last year.
“He just needs a bit of luck and a good barrier and he’ll win one of these races,” Moody said.
The entire has won just two of his 15 starts, his first being over 1509m at the Valley at his third start in September last year.
His recent form has been most encouraging with a fourth to Orange County in the Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) on September 20 and a third to Alamosa and Saturday’s rival Rockwood in the Toorak Hcp (1600m) on October 11, both at Caulfield.
Scott Seamer, who was on Pillar Of Hercules last start, retains the ride.
“There’s some possibility the horse will run in the Mackinnon (on Saturday week), but it’s more than likely he’ll run in the Emirates (November 8),” Moody said.
Meanwhile, a wide barrier draw hasn’t helped Orange County in his bid to go one better in the race after finishing runner-up to Sonic Quest last year.
The grey drew badly for the fourth time in a row, this time coming up with barrier 13 in the field of 15 plus three emergencies.
Trainer Brian Mayfield-Smith said the six-year-old settled too far back in the Toorak when finishing ninth.
“I know it was a difficult job from 16, but he only has a 1-1/2 furlong (300m) sprint and couldn’t win it from where he was,” the Flemington trainer said.
“He doesn’t have any trouble running 1600 metres, but he has to be up closer,” he said.
At his previous start, Orange County jumped from barrier 15, got back and finished powerfully to win the Group One Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
“To win back-to-back Group Ones at Caulfield after getting back from a wide barrier would have been like lightning striking twice in the same place,” Mayfield-Smith said.
While the Volksraad gelding hasn’t won in five starts at 1600m, his efforts at the trip include a solid third to The Fuzz in the Group Two Blamey Stakes and sixth to Tears I Cry in last year’s Emirates Stakes, both at Flemington.
Sea Battle, fourth from barrier 17 in the Toorak and drawn out in 16 on Saturday, is $4.40 favourite with TAB Sportsbet ahead of Rockwood at $4.80, Pillar Of Hercules ($6), Orange County ($7), Conquering, who is in from $13 to $10, with Marching best of the rest at $11.
By Mark Ryan