Local trainer Matt Cumani has Grey Lion primed to win his first race on Australian soil in the Listed $300,000 Ballarat Cup (2200m) at Ballarat on Saturday.
Grey Lion has been placed three times from eleven starts since arriving in Australia and the French import heads to the Ballarat Cup on the back of a gutsy second to Vengeur Masque in the Group 3 $300,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on November 11, the last day of the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Cumani is pleased with the way Grey Lion has come through that run and is looking forward to seeing him in the winner’s stall after the running of the Ballarat Cup on his home track.
“He is a horse that needs a lot of racing and I think we’ve worked that out now, with every run he seems to be getting fitter, stronger and having more guts at the end,” Cumani told racing.com.
“Since his last run he’s been in great order and I’m hopeful that on Saturday we’ll see him at his very best.
“When he runs he’s thereabouts but he doesn’t quite put them to bed and you like to think that when a horse heads another horse in the run that they can put them away.
“I’m hoping that it’s just been a case of him waiting to get fit and hit his peak.”
Grey Lion was narrowly beaten when second to Qewy in the 2016 Group 3 $300,000 Geelong Cup (2400m) at Geelong at his first run in Australia and his other placing was a third three starts back to Folkswood in the Listed $300,000 Cranbourne Cup (2025m) at Cranbourne on October 15.
Jordan Childs will again team up with Grey Lion who has drawn nicely at barrier three in the thirteen horse Ballarat Cup field.
Victoria’s leading trainer Darren Weir will only have one runner in the Ballarat Cup, last start winner Mr Garcia who has drawn barrier nine with apprentice Ben Allen in the saddle.
Allen replaces Kerrin McEvoy who was aboard the five year old last start when he won the 1800m BenchMark 90 Handicap at Flemington on Kennedy Oaks Day over the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Chris Waller will saddle up the top weight Antonio Giuseppe who will jump from barrier five with Michael Walker on top.
Antonio Giuseppe will be dropping back in grade following his last start seventh to Lucky Hussler in the Group 2 $200,000 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) at The Valley on October 28.
Final field for the 2017 Ballarat Cup (2200m)
|#||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||1240×54277||ANTONIO GIUSEPPE (NZ)||Chris Waller||Michael Walker||5||58kg||101|
|2||5x246211x0||DE LITTLE ENGINE||Danny O’Brien||Ben Thompson (a)||10||56kg||97|
|3||7614246054||EXTRA ZERO||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Regan Bayliss||4||55.5kg||96|
|4||02510×0046||BIG MEMORY (FR)||Tony McEvoy||Luke Currie||1||55kg||95|
|5||076×070342||GREY LION (IRE)||Matt Cumani||Jordan Childs||3||55kg||95|
|6||66214×2703||SECOND BULLET||Danny O’Brien||Ben Melham||11||54kg||93|
|7||110x4x57x1||MR GARCIA (GB)||Darren Weir||Ben Allen (a)||9||54kg||92|
|8||136x668x60||BIG BLUE (GB)||James Cummings||Stephen Baster||13||54kg||91|
|9||96x990x701||SONNTAG||Henry Dwyer||Jye McNeil||7||54kg||89|
|10||x431431x01||ONCIDIUM RULER||Michael Kent||Beau Mertens (a)||2||54kg||87|
|11||x51710x073||GRAND DREAMER||Robert Smerdon||Patrick Moloney||6||54kg||80|
|12||39×8057222||KNOWABLE||Steve Richards||Dean Yendall||12||54kg||72|
|13||2605043313||JIMMIE JIM||Charles Quick||Ms Nikita Beriman||8||54kg||57|