CAMERON Crockett wasn’t thinking about targeting Friday’s $65,000 Orange Cup (2100m) with Kingsbridge, but the family’s history in the race changed his mind.
Kingsbridge is starting to turn himself into a very nice stayer, but Crockett was wondering if Friday’s race had all come a bit soon for him until he remembered what his father was able to achieve with King’s Consul.
HOT TIPS: WEEKEND BEST BETS
ANALYSIS: QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES PREVIEW
Max Crockett took out the race with King’s Consul in 2006 as a $26 chance.
“He had average ability and it was a great training feat by dad. Kingsbridge has a bit more ability than him but this has come very early for him,” Cameron said.
“It was more of an afterthought because there’s not many 10 furlong races around here. It’s not beyond him, though, and I wouldn’t discount him out of this race.
MATT JONES’S BEST BETS
BEST BET: VICEROY (Race 6, No. 2)
If he starts at $2.20 or more, it’s way over the odds. He’s good enough to beat this field easily if he races anywhere near his peak.
NEXT BEST: LETTER TO JULIETTE (Race 7, No. 3)
The stable were thinking this horse was a potential Group 1 runner not long ago but bad luck hasn’t helped her. If she’s given every chance, she can get a well-deserved win.
VALUE BET: LOVES A HASSLE (Race 8, No. 2)
Forget the last run — a total forgive. From a good draw this time he’ll be closer to the speed and will get his chance.
Race 5: 1, 2, 4, 7, Race 6: 2, Race 7: 1, 2, 3, Race 8: 2, 5, 6, 11
TRAINER TO WATCH
BJORN BAKER only has three runners but he has brought all three of them out to Orange as genuine winning changes.
JOCKEY TO WATCH
Visiting Chinese jockey QIN YONG, who claims 4kg, has two rides and they are both good hopes for top trainers.
SCROLL DOWN FOR MATT’S EXTENDED PREVIEW & TIPS
“I’ve seen Orange Cups that look harder and have had more depth. It’s not weak though. If he went to race in a Benchmark race next week he’d still run into a similar field.”
King’s Consul never won a race after that Orange Cup, but Crockett feels Kingsbridge has plenty left in him. His potential was evident when he was soft to the line in winning at Mudgee over 2000m last start on March 31.
Crockett gave him a 880m barrier trial on April 10 to make sure he was peaking for Friday’s race and it was also important to give jockey Eleanor Webster-Hawes a sit on him because other jockeys have told Crockett the horse is very laid-back when they ride him.
“I just gave him a little hitout because he’s very laid-back at home, too,” he said. “There will be more pressure on in this race than the last one so I wanted to give him a good foundation going into 2100m. It was a nice trial. He was in one of the fastest heats of the day and he’s so fit. He couldn’t muster speed with them and he was just having a nice, working gallop to clear the wind and so I could see if his action was still good.
“He likes the quick back-up so I gave him that trial to put him under a little more pressure than I normally would between runs just to be sure that he’s in good order for 2100m.”
Despite drawing the widest gate (12) Crocket said all that did was force their hand and make sure he crosses the field and sit up on the speed against the likes of Letter To Juliette and Bon Equus. Crockett almost won the Orange Cup with Are You Sure, who was beaten by Mr Steal by a long head.
“He’s got great gate speed but has no muster once he hits the ground which is why he gets a trip. He’s got stayer written all over him,” Crockett said. “The preparation I had then with Are You Sure was similar. You can have a run or trial with stayers close to a race.
“He belted them the other day over 2000m with a decent weight but there’s a couple of on-pacers so this will be a different race. Orange is a good track for those horses that get up on the speed and grind away.”
Crockett will also race first starter Andy’s A Star in Maiden Plate (1280m) and he’s coming off a trial win over 880m.
“He’s still a chance despite the fact he’s got no idea what he’s doing. He won his trial but it was only a fair trial against horses that were very plain,” Crockett said.
“He’s a horse that won’t improve until he’s under race pressure. He’ll need a run or two though I think. He’s an each-way chance.”
INSIDE MAIL WITH MATT JONES
RACE 1 (12.45pm)
Surely this is the day for 1. Hez Lethal, who should have already won by now. This is a suitable race and dropping back to 1000m won’t diminish his cause. 3. All Too Good wants further but these staying types can still do well fresh, so watch for her running on. 7. Midnight Serenade was an eye-catcher first-up and on that form needs to be respected.
BETTING STRATEGY: HEZ LETHAL to win.
RACE 2 (1.20pm)
1. Base Camp has been in much better company than this and even just a little bit of improvement will make him hard to beat. 3. Personable is in the same boat. She’s dropping further in grade and won’t feel the pressure as much here and the mile shouldn’t be an issue. 5. Oskastar has been racing well at 1400m, which is a good sign because he goes even better at 1600m and will be up on the speed. Other chances are 4. Underground and 8. George Two.
BETTING STRATEGY: PERSONABLE to win.
RACE 3 (1.55pm)
2. Blazing Beau was good at his second start and now that he’s out to 1400m, I think we’ll see an even better showing. 1. High Dive has been racing well from shocking gates and with a cushy barrier here, he can take the next step. A breakthrough win might give 3. Quite Unexpected the confidence to push on after a heap of runner-up finishes.
BETTING STRATEGY: BLAZING BEAU to win.
RACE 4 (2.35pm)
3. Coup De Main trialled well against star stablemate Don’t Give A Damn before his debut and, from a good barrier, he should find a nice spot just of the speed. That will be created by 6. Vandross, who can race well fresh and is at a suitable trip for a first-up run. 4. My Blue Jeans will be an improver at his fourth career start for a powerhouse country stable. Best of the rest is 7. Ancascocha.
BETTING STRATEGY: VANDROSS to win.
RACE 5 (3.10pm)
Bjorn Baker threw 7. Lagarde into the deep end last start by racing her in Saturday Sydney grade, where she finished four lengths eighth behind Condemned. She has now been given a much easier task to break through. 4. Showgals faded late last start behind Lagarde at Muswellbrook but after a break and two trials, she can bounce back. From gate three, expect 2. Hard Core to take up the running and give a good sight. 1. Cyclonite is the knockout hope.
BETTING STRATEGY: LAGARDE to win.
RACE 6 (3.50pm)
2. Viceroy has been doing well, and winning, in town. Despite the weight, he’s got a good draw, which will help a lot. If he runs up to his best, he should win. 5. Lucy Rose is coming off a good win. She’s a speedy filly who can run fast sectionals, so the 1000m is perfect for her at this stage of her career. 6. Kooringal Star is coming off a good win, too, but he’ll have to lift another two levels to win this. 1. Zarhron is in the same boat.
BETTING STRATEGY: Quinella 2, 5.
RACE 7 (4.25pm)
3. Letter To Juliette has been unlucky this preparation, but the stable has a high opinion of her. She should have won the Bathurst Cup and has been competitive in town. 1. Bon Equus is the topweight for a reason — a genuine stayer who is thriving. It’s hard to see him not finishing in the first three. 2. Kingsbridge has been given his toughest task but he was soft on the line in winning last start and it’s not the strongest Orange Cup. He’s on the way up.
BETTING STRATEGY: LETTER TO JULIETTE to win.
RACE 8 (5.05pm)
11. Respun doesn’t have a flash first-up record but if he brings his last-start form to this race, he’s right in it. And 1300m is suitable. 5. Tiger By The Tale has been consistent at good odds of late and he’s an each-way prospect again. 2. Loves A Hassle got back from a wide gate last start and had too much to do, but it won’t be like that this time from a good draw and he can do well over this distance. 6. Alvin Purple is a progressive horse and will be in the finish on his form.
BETTING STRATEGY: LOVES A HASSLE to win.
Wilkes confident Fuel is ready to fire
FUEL is back to the scene of the crime at Port Macquarie on Friday and trainer Wayne Wilkes is hoping it’s the trip he needs to get back into the winners’ circle.
The five-year-old lines up in an Open Handicap over the same distance (1506m) as he won two starts back when defeating Zuccherina and Wewonya on his home track.
“He’s a very good chance,” Wilkes said. “He’s a winning chance over 1500m.
“Everything is adding up well for this and the distance is as far as he wants to go this preparation.”
A start earlier he took on eventual Country Championships winner Victorem in the Port Macquarie qualifier, but found the 1200m too short for his liking. His last-start effort when fifth to Dalmatia Prince was a forgive run as he faded late to run fifth by 2½ lengths.
Wilkes wants Fuel to lead from barrier one with Josh Oliver on board. He thinks Fuel’s best hope will be to try and control the race and get into his comfort zone rather than have to adapt to another horse’s style.
“He’s been in form and has come up quite well since his last run and I’m very happy with how he’s going,” Wilkes said. “He was very good last start in a funny race. They got him a bit keener than he should have been travelling. He gets in well in the weights.
“He’s been running into handy horses and only been getting beaten by small margins. He’s just run into a horse going really well.”
Wilkes feels Egyptian Ruler is the one to beat and despite not winning this preparation, he steps well back in class after running in town last start. “The topweight is a danger but it has to give us 6kg, which makes a difference with the rail out,” Wilkes said.
If Fuel wins, or races well on Friday, Wilkes will send him to the Tamworth Cup on April 29, but he might even be better than that.
“He could be a horse that could come down to Sydney for a midweek race. Something over 1500m at Canterbury would be ideal for him,” he said.