The John O’Shea trainer Malice has been installed the early favourite for the Listed $160,000 McKimms Real Estate Grafton Cup (2350m) at Grafton on Thursday.
In a wide open betting race with five runners under the $10 mark at Ladbrokes.com.au, Malice heads the market order at $4.40 ahead of the Tony Gollan trained Amexed at $5.
Also high up in the market is the Chris Waller trained Index Linked and Toowoomba stayer Jumbo Prince at $5.50 and David Payne’s in-form Foreign Prince at $8.
Malice had performed consistently during the Brisbane Winter Carnival without visiting the winner’s stall after producing two thirds and a fourth from three Brisbane starts.
The Teofilo five year old was beaten just under one length when third to Mighty Lucky in the Group 3 $125,000 Programmed Property Services Lord Mayor’s Cup (1615m) at Doomben on May 28 then ran fourth to Hopfgarten in the Listed $100,000 RadioTAB The Wayne Wilson Mile (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 11.
Malice then ran his usual honest race when half a length third to Grafton Cup rival Index Linked in the Group 3 $200,000 Carlton Mid Tattersall’s Cup (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 25.
Sydney based jockey Brenton Avdulla takes over from Damian Browne on Malice who has drawn barrier eight in the Grafton Cup.
Second favourite Amexed with Robbie Fradd in the saddle is chasing a hat trick after winning a 2150m BenchMark 80 Handicap at Ipswich on Ipswich Cup Day followed by a win in the Listed $175,000 Cellar Maintenance Australia Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast on July 2.
Trainer Tony Gollan was very pleased to see Amexed back in the winner’s stall at Ipswich after the five year old showed so much promise during his three year old season.
“This horse won the Rough Habit Plate and was fifth in the Queensland Derby as a three-year-old but things went wrong and it wasn’t until Ipswich he won again,” Gollan said.
“I believe he is potentially the best stayer I have trained and I am so pleased for the owners because they didn’t complain once when he struck the bad patch.”
Top weight Index Linked was back in the winner’s list for the first time in twelve months when he won the Tattersall’s Cup but has since has finished seventh to Amexed in the Caloundra Cup.
The Michael Nolan trained Jumbo Prince is overdue for a win following seconds at his last two starts, his latest behind Amexed at the Sunshine Coast.
Regular rider Jum Byrne will be in the saddle again and the four year old is certain to get a good run from barrier six.
Jason Collett has retained the ride on Foreign Prince but has plenty of work to do from barrier fifteen if he is to return the five year old back to the winner’s circle following a last start third in the Listed $100,000 ATC Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on July 2.
Grafton Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.40 Malice, $5 Amexed, $5.50 Index Linked, Jumbo Prince, $8 Foreign Prince, $15 Teronado, $17 Jiayuguan, $18 All Clear, $21 Swift Lady, $26 Brave Ali, Egyptian Ruler, $31 Rednav, $41 Dream Folk, $61 Light Motion, $101 Kingston Time.