Duff bolstered by Alverta's absence

Trainer Paul Messara’s decision to bypass the Listed Recognition Stakes with Canberra Cup-bound Alverta has boosted rival Pat Duff’s confidence of another feature success at Eagle Farm.

PatDuff Duff will saddle up topweight Hard To Catch and Cocktail Supreme in the 1600-metre Recognition Stakes on Saturday and is relieved Messara decided against making the trip north with his Scone-based mare.

Messara felt a heavy track and 1.5 kilogram penalty to 58kg would be too testing on the five-year-old who drew barrier seven and has only 55.5kg in Sunday’s $200,000 Canberra Cup (2000m).

Shane Scriven, who won the Listed Brisbane Handicap (1600m) at Eagle Farm on Alverta last start, will travel to Canberra to ride her again.

Duff gives Cocktail Supreme a slight edge over his seasoned sprinter Hard To Catch despite the five-year-old attempting 1600-metres for the first time.

Cocktail Supreme will be jumping sharply in distance following his game second to Forestreno in the Keith Noud Handicap (1200m) at Eagle Farm last week.

Brad Pengelly has retained the ride on Cocktail Supreme after an early mix-up had Duff’s former stable apprentice Mandy Radecker engaged.

"There was a bit of a mix-up over the ride," Duff said.

"Originally Brad thought he was booked for Majorca so I asked Mandy to ride Cocktail Supreme.

"But when Brad found out Majorca wasn’t running he quickly rang and Mandy was very gracious the way she offered to step down."

Duff believes there’s little between his Recognition Stakes runners but has a slight leaning to Cocktail Supreme in the wet conditions.

"I know he’s going to 1600 metres the first time and it’s a huge jump from 1200 metres but Cocktail Supreme likes the wet better than Hard To Catch," Duff said.

"I’ve got no doubt he’ll run 1600 metres and with Alverta out of the way it should be a little easier.

"The worry I have with Hard To Catch is his 61kg on a heavy track. If I could wave a magic wand I’d like the track to improve a little to give them equal chances.

"At the weights over their careers Hard To Catch has a slight edge on Cocktail Supreme despite his 61 kilos.

"Both are fit and well and Cocktail Supreme has a question to answer over the distance but I’m confident he can do it.

"The way Cocktail Supreme finished off his win in the Ascot Handicap in July he should have no trouble running 1600 metres."

Cocktail Supreme had the wood on Alverta when they met for the only time when the Queenslander streaked home by more than four lengths on a heavy track in the Listed Ascot Handicap (1300m) at Eagle Farm on July 5.

By Glenn Davis