Last year’s winner Rock Royalty is one of the big market movers in early betting for the Listed $160,000 Crowe Horwath Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton on Wednesday.
Ladbrokes.com.au opened Rock Royalty at $26 when the final field for the Ramornie Handicap was released on Monday and he quickly firmed into $12 before easing slightly to be $14 on Tuesday morning.
Even though Rock Royalty hasn’t visited the winner’s stall since collecting the winning trophy for last year’s Ramornie Handicap, trainer Liam Birchley is happy with the way the seven year old is racing and said he was very unlucky at his last start when sixth to Into The Red in the Group 3 $175,000 W.J. Healy Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on June 25.
Birchley said that jockey James Orman told him that Rock Royalty could have gone close to winning had he not been held up for a run in the early part of the straight.
“I thought he could have nearly won it as stupid as that sounds with the margin,” Birchely told The Gold Coast Bulletin.
“That was (jockey) Jimmy Orman talking and he would have more of an idea than me.
“The way that track was playing to be stopped like that at that point, you can just forget it and momentum is everything.
“I really think he is going as good as this time last year. I haven’t gone through the race properly but I thought he would be (priced) somewhere in the low teens.”
Rock Royalty draw barrier ten in the original draw but could come in one place if the second emergency Crooked Blaze, barrier one, doesn’t gain a start and the gelding will be ridden by Anthony Allen.
First emergency Finishing Card, barrier four, has already gained a start following the early scratching of the John O’Shea trained Barbed who drew wide at gate seventeen.
Rock Royalty has had nine starts since winning the Ramornie Handicap twelve months ago with his best result being a fourth in an 1110m Open Handicap at Doomben on April 2.
Birchley will also saddle up Hardline who is currently marked as a $17 chance with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Hardline won the 2015 NZ$1m NZB Karaka Million (1200m) at Ellerslie as a two year old but hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since taking out a 1050m Class 6 at Doomben in September last year.
The Showcasing three year old has had two runs this time in for a third against the older horses in the Listed $100,000 AMGROW Lightning Handicap (1050m) at Doomben on June 8 following by a ninth back against his own age in a 1200m Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 25.
Hardline has drawn barrier twelve in the original barrier draw with Matthew McGuren taking over from Luke Dittman who will be aboard top fancy Into The Red.
While Birchely isn’t dismissing the chances of Hardline, he indicated that Rock Royalty is his pick of the two sprinters.
“I’m probably actually leaning to Rock Royalty a bit because he will be a bit handier and usually that’s an advantage there,” Birchley said.
“But Hardline had to get out and going at (the 600m mark last start) otherwise you were no chance and it just didn’t work out at all but I wasn’t disappointed with the run.”
The John O’Shea trained Mogador heads the market at $4.60 ahead of Into The Red at $5 and Mount Nebo at $5.50.
Ramornie Handicap market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.60 Mogador, $5 Into The Red, $5.50 Mount Nebo, $7 Big Money, $9.50 Tina Melina, $14 Rock Royalty, $15 Steel Zip, Executed, $16 Smart Volatility, $17 Decision Time, Hardline, $20 Echo Gal, $26 Office Bearer, $31 Crooked Blaze, Crossroads, $34 Londehero, $41 Power Receiver, $61 Slots, $81 Finishing Card.