Arapaho Miss on Australia Cup trail
Trainer Pat Carey is reluctant to declare she is back but admits he likes what he sees as he hones in on the Australian Cup with Arapaho Miss.
Carey said the signs were encouraging for the 2007 VRC Oaks winner who found a top-three finish for the first time in nearly a year in Saturday’s Listed Sportingbet Gold Cup at Caulfield.
While she was beaten nearly four lengths by another Australian Cup fancy Road To Rock, the four-year-old mare has emerged as one of the main chances, shortening from last week’s $35 quote with TAB Sportsbet to $15 on Monday.
"The signs are good," Carey said.
"She needed to show some form on Saturday to keep going towards the Australian Cup.
"She was going backwards coming to the corner but then she got in to top gear and ran on nicely."
Arapaho Miss lost form after having a bone chip in her near-fore knee removed last autumn but Carey always hoped that she would reignite her career this campaign.
The daughter of Danehill Dancer was well held first-up when ninth over an unsuitable 1300 metres at Sandown on January 24 and had a checkered run when seventh in the Group Two Sunline Stakes leading up to last Saturday’s performance.
"We will see how she shapes up but I have seen stronger Australian Cups," Carey said.
If she can win on Saturday, Arapaho Miss will be the fourth mare to claim the Australian Cup (2000m) in the past 20 years, joining Let’s Elope (1992), Starstruck (1995), Dane Ripper (1998), and Makybe Diva (2005).
Gai Waterhouse’s St George Stakes winner Theseo remains the dominant $2.25 favourite ahead of $9 chances Master O’Reilly and Futurity Stakes winner Niconero. Road To Rock is at $10.
Theseo, Niconero and Road To Rock will all gallop at Flemington on Tuesday morning along with other Australian Cup contenders Scenic Shot, Marching, Zagreb, Growl and Kibbutz.
Last year’s Australian Cup winner Sirmione, trained by Bart Cummings, will also have a testing gallop to prove his fitness after suffering a hamstring injury in the St George Stakes.
Sirmione’s stablemate Swick is drawn in an 800-metre jump out down the straight against other Newmarket Handicap candidates Absolut Glam and Triple Honour.
Swick, who won the Group One Patinack Farm Stakes at Flemington last spring, is not noted for dazzling clockers away from raceday and is $11 to give Cummings his ninth Newmarket victory.
Brad Rawiller has been engaged as the replacement for suspended jockey Michael Rodd.
Newmarket favourite Burdekin Blues ($5.50) will take on Newmarket rivals Viking Turf Belle and Duporth in another jump out.
David Hayes-trained Newmarket entries Largo Lad, Red Element and Seventh Rock are listed to gallop down the straight without barriers as is Fist Of Fury, Lightning Stakes winner Scenic Blast and Aichi.
Theseo’s stablemate Northern Meteor will work around the turn at Flemington as part of his Newmarket lead-up.
Northern Meteor hasn’t raced since winning the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes at his only start down the straight last November.
By Robert Windmill