The Launceston Cup of 2019 will be run on Wednesday as Race 8 on the program, set to start at 5.05pm. Just a field of 10 will face the starter for the $250,000 Group 3 event over 2400m where Eastender will look to complete the Tasmanian Triple Crown, adding to his triumphs in the Devonport and Hobart Cups.
The speed map looks rather straightforward on paper with Fabrizio likely to take up the running ahead of Appmat, with his rider Dwayne Dunn likely to be content sitting second. Etymology should take up a forward position behind them off his inside draw and Snoano can roll forward for Steph Thornton from wider out. Speed Force may try and sneak in around midfield from his wide draw but many of these will be content to settle down in the second half of the field. The tempo may be markedly different to the Hobart Cup which was run at a very strong clip and suited the genuine stayers, but with less on-pacers engaged this time the pressure at the front end may be far less.
Was a late nomination for the Hobart Cup but the stable elected to run in a 2500m at Moonee Valley instead, where he led and ran 3rd at Listed level behind Vengeur Masque. The peak of his career was over shorter distances in 2016 when he started favourite in both a Group 1 Epsom Handicap and Group 2 Villiers Stakes over 1600m at Randwick, but recently he has been solid enough in genuine staying races. Controlled the speed two starts back when 3rd behind Etymology at Warwick Farm but that horse did look to have his measure. Has been carrying big weights so the top weight won’t be foreign to him but I wonder if he needs a bit of weight relief to get over the line at these longer trips. Has a touch of class about him but hasn’t won since April 2017 nor has he won beyond 1800m so I will be happy to risk him unless the fence is on fire.
The ruling favourite with excellent mainland metropolitan form to his credit. Scored two devastating wins at Flemington during the summer over 2500m and 2800m, winning by over four lengths on both occasions. Continued on his winning way at Warwick Farm last time when an easing favourite but only stamped his dominance over the final 100m. Showed plenty of quality as a young horse when 2nd in the VRC Derby behind Tarzino but is only just starting to fulfil that potential now. The question marks with him are his long prep (this is his 10th run after resuming over 1400m back in October), the fact that this race may be a bit of an afterthought after the stable’s success in the 3yo features, and interrupted travel plans, although it appears Godolphin were still able to organise a flight across rather than journey by boat. Deserved favourite but hasn’t been missed by the oddsmakers.
The top pick of the local brigade. Put the writing on the wall last season as a stayer of the future and has well and truly delivered on that potential this time around. Expertly handled by Barry Campbell this preparation to win the Devonport, Summer and Hobart Cups in succession yet is still very reasonably handicapped here. The negatives against him here are a firmer track (although he was dominant on drier ground in last season’s St Leger) and the likelihood of a softer tempo (which may leave him flat footed if the sprint goes on, but on the flip side he won’t be giving such a big start). He continues to step up to the plate and I think he can continue on his merry way.
Has won two of his past three starts in Victoria, including over the 2400m at his last start when sent out a $2.80 favourite. Has been quite sluggish leaving the gates at his past few starts so maybe the gap between runs of three and a half weeks might have him a little fresher at that stage of the race. Finished with Snoano, Vengeur Masque and Lamborghini two runs ago at Caulfield so brings obviously competitive formlines and has champion jockey Damien Oliver in the saddle. Racing very consistently and successfully but I think this is harder and he is a little too on-paced for my liking. Obvious place claims but I am going to risk him as a major winning chance.
Was extremely firm in the market in the Hobart Cup and ran right up to that support with a very solid 2nd. Was given a beautiful ride by Dee and got to the right part of the track in the straight but had no answer to the powerful finishing burst of Eastender. Another who may be slightly disadvantaged by a more controlled tempo up front as the barrier means he will have to settle back. Can’t pot how he is going but I do find it hard to see him turning the tables on Eastender. A valid winning chance but also a horse I am happy to take on as I think if the race is set up for the swoopers I much prefer to be on Eastender.
An honest on-pacer who was victim to the sustained speed of the Hobart Cup which saw him finish midfield but over ten lengths from the winner. The blinkers come off here and he looks suited by the expected softer tempo, but he has been well held against similar opposition in Victoria and it is hard to work out a scenario where he can turn the tables on the better performed horses in Hobart.
This is clearly the best chance at longer odds in the race. An unheralded local stayer who stamped his quality in the Hobart Cup with a tremendously gutsy showing from the front in a strongly run affair. Where the other on-pacers were calling for the oxygen in the straight he battled on right to the line to hold 3rd, beaten only by two horses who settled near the rear of the field. There looks to be much less pressure this time which will play into his hands as he is a tough horse to get past, however he also requires a well-timed ride from Dunn who will be best suited taking the sprint out of his main rivals as they go down the side. With a softer time early and a ride which takes advantage of his staying strength, he can give a massive sight at good each way odds.
Bill Ryan elected to bypass the Hobart Cup with this horse after his plain effort in the Summer Cup in Hobart, on a shifty track which he has rarely produced his best on. He was rewarded with a win in the Night Cup here a fortnight ago when he arrived in the nick of time to beat Sentry Duty. Failed in his only run over 2400m in last year’s Hobart Cup and while he has won well twice in weaker grade here over 2100m, I have grave doubts on him running the trip out strongly in this grade. A nice horse but will be going around with me.
Veteran who generally runs well in this race and should beat a few home but it would be a surprise to see him place, let alone win.
Honest stayer but he is obviously outclassed in this.
I am happy to narrow this race down to three main winning chances - Etymology, Eastender and Appmat. Etymology is the obvious but he is going to need to be right on his game against two local stayers who I expect to acquit themselves especially well when they head to the mainland following this race. With the slight query around the favourite’s preparation, I am happy to spread my bet on both Eastender and Appmat in search of a result.
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