Australian Oaks winner Rising Romance is the best chance of David Hayes’ three runners to give the Lindsay Park co-trainer back to back wins in the Group 1 $1.5m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Hayes, who trained in partnership with Tom Dabernig at Lindsay Park at Euroa, quinelled the Australian Cup last year with English import Spillway and veteran galloper Extra Zero.
That was Hayes’ third win in the Melbourne Autumn Carnival’s feature weight for age race after collecting the winning trophy with Niconero in 2009 and with Better Loosen Up in 1991.
Extra Zero will also go around after being beaten a whisker by his stablemate last year and French import Almoonqith will be Hayes and Dabernig’s third runner.
Rising Romance has had two unplaced runs from a spell for a eleventh to Suavito in the Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 13 followed by a sixth to Bow Creek in the Group 2 $200,000 Crown Golden Ale Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield two weeks ago.
Even though Rising Romance was beaten three and a quarter lengths by Australian Cup favourite Bow Creek last start, Hayes still had plenty of positives coming out of the race.
“She got caught up and only got out late and ran a very good last 100 metres but the race was over,” Hayes told AAP.
“She was never a threat but it wasn’t because of her ability, it was because of the bad luck she had.
“She might get the breaks (on Saturday). She’s got a good barrier and she’s been set for it.
“I’m pretty confident she’ll really perform well.”
Big race jockey Craig Williams has stuck with the five year old mare and is hoping for a better run in transit from barrier six in the ten horse field.
Hayes is also expecting a bold showing from Almoonqith in the Australian Cup but expects the six year old to take great improvement from the run before he heads to Sydney for ‘The Championships.’
Almoonqith is nominated for the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and the Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m), both at Randwick on April 9, the second day of ‘The Championships’.
“He’s got a lot of condition on him and we haven’t pushed him really hard going into this race because we’re hoping to peak in Sydney for the Sydney Cup,” Hayes said.
“But his work on Monday suggests he’ll run well.”
Rising Romance is marked as an $8.50 chance for the Australian Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au while Almoonqith at $21 and Extra Zero at $41 are two of the outsiders of the field.
The John O’Shea trained Bow Creek heads the market order at $3.20 on the strength of his sensational win in the Peter Young Stakes after he walked out of the barrier while second favourite Preferment continues to firm in the betting and is now at $5.50 after opening at $6.50 when the final field was released on Wednesday.
Australian Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.20 Bow Creek, $5.50 Preferment, $6 Our Ivanhowe, $8.50 Suavito, Rising Romance, $11 Fenway, $19 Awesome Rock, $21 Happy Trails, Almoonqith, $41 Extra Zero.