I have some catching up to do after an ordinary day in the wet last Saturday.
The 2018 Scone Cup takes place on the traditional Friday of the two-day carnival, with $200,000 up for grabs in the race that stops the country town.
The standalone Saturday continues to blossom into a high-quality meeting, but the Cup over the classic 1600m is all that matters on Friday
There’s a full 16 runners lining up in the race plus a single emergency, with six runners coming out of Hawkesbury’s meeting, including the Hawkesbury Cup winner.
It’s a tricky race to win even when your punting is on fire, and the Quality Handicap conditions won’t make it any easier. It’s a great day or two out in Scone and top racing is everywhere on the Saturday.
Scone hasn’t had a drop of rain in months so it’s a Good 4 and although the grass looks good from some angles on social media nothing beats rainfall so it’ll be firm and fast. Do a rain dance if you get up there!
Last year’s winner is back in the Godolphin horse Duca Valentinois and it’s great to see the winner defending his title.
He’s topweight, carrying 59kgs, and rises two kilos from his fourth in the Hawkesbury Cup. No question he likes the track and he gets a weight turnaround on Kingsguard. Will be coming home late and might just be too good again if he can heft the impost.
The Hawkesbury Cup (nee Scone Cup Prelude) winner is here as well in Kingsguard who carries 57kg. He rises 4kgs in weights from that win in pretty good company. Should be pushing towards the front out of his wide gate and will need some luck for an easy run.
Cool Chap is no duffer, coming out of Group 1 races like the Doncaster Mile and Queen Elizabeth at Flemington last year, but hasn’t won over 1600m and comes back from 2000m. I feel he’ll just be a length off them but in the finish.
New Tipperary has a great second-up record, enjoys the mile, and likes a dry track. Winkers go on and I rate him a chance. I know one or two punters who follow this horse and have done a lot of dough in doing so, but if he’s set to win it’s surely this race.
Lubiton looks like the leader in the race from gate 7 with her early speed and should run them along. Forget her last run when wide without cover, she seems to love 1600m and dry tracks, so he should go well carrying 54.5kgs. She’s hard to figure out, but at $11 or so she’s a good solid each-way chance. There’s a possibility they scratch her for the Dark Jewel on Saturday.
Green Sweet would be a shock. First-up, a new trainer, wide gate, and not a lot of form over the past year. He looks like an expensive import from France so good luck to them, but not here.
More Energy is a bit of a funny one. He won the Parramatta Cup and was flying, only to put in two very poor efforts. He’s been spelled since and had a trial to get some fitness but from the widest possibly draw and with not fitness, you have to look elsewhere.
Sedanzer brings Gai Waterhouse to Scone and she’s coming off some nice earnings from the Gold Coast Magic Millions races. She was pretty close first-up at Hawkesbury at well short of her best distance and has a perfect record second-up. Her favouritism surprises but she’s a good chance.
Black On Gold is second-up here and drops weight off that run. Looks like a Waller-trained gelding that could be there or thereabouts for years but I prefer others here.
Get On The Grange is a nice Cups horse who is never far away, and trainer Allan Kehoe has fiddled with the old boy’s gear, taking the winkers off and putting blinkers on again after he looked like her overraced at Toowoomba. He did try here last year over 2200m without troubling the places. Doesn’t tick enough boxes for mine.
Pelethronius would be a massive chance in the wet but on a dry track here, his Queensland form doesn’t look as good. Have to risk him.
Last year I wrote this about Royal Tudor: “He’s a classic Scone-loving horse (seven starts, three wins, three seconds) hoping that local experience can win, but 1600m might be too far.” In the end, in last year’s Cup he had a horror run after he refused to settle and wasn’t a chance of winning over the extra distance for him. Maybe with a soft run tucked away he’ll be in it more this year?
Karavali is a handy and versatile mare who’ll be coming home late and hoping for clear air. She drops weight off a placing in town, and might be a surprise packet here if everything goes her way.
Plaisir was going great until he didn’t really find the line well in the Hawkesbury Cup last start. Maybe he’s not quite a 1600m horse. Robert Thompson on board will give him every chance but I prefer others.
Most Exalted is stuck with a wide draw and hasn’t placed in four runs this prep and lacks the class to others. He doesn’t get much weight-relief either.
Bezel doesn’t have a lot of form for this, and comes out of lesser race at Hawkesbury where he was decent enough on the rail. His win the start before saw him go right around the field and it may be he prefers bigger tracks, which he gets here and likes a dry surface. Looks overs but he’s a roughie.
The emergency in After All That doesn’t look like getting a run. He’d be an interest horse, stepping up to 1600m for the first time and has a win at the track for local trainer Rod Northam. Don’t think he’ll get a start and not sure he has a mile in his legs.
It’s an open race. I think we can hope that around nine or ten of these aren’t quite suited due to distance or preparation or the dry. That leaves us with plenty to figure out.
Starting with the topweight, I’d be surprised if Duca Valentinois missed the placings. He was dominant last year and the weight might give him troubles but he’s a top chance.
I like New Tipperary too – well-weighted, great second-up record and a great record at 1600m.
Sedanzer is the favourite for the race but I can’t take her at the short odds, especially considering only three horses under $8 have won in the last 15 years. I prefer Lubiton over her too, if she runs.
I’m willing to throw in Royal Tudor at the odds. He’ll need more luck than probably any other runner just to get the distance, but he’ll do better than last year if he settles. Best of the roughies is Bezel if you really want to roll the dice, not without a hope at all.
1. Duca Valentinois
2. New Tipperary
4. Royal Tudor