Five of six of Chris Waller’s runners have drawn double digit barriers in the Group 3 $200,000 Panthers Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) at the Hawkesbury standalone meeting on Saturday.
Waller will saddle up Junoob (barrier 18), Opinion (20), Beaten Up (16), Strawberry Boy (14), Amovatio (19) and Tales Of Grimm (3).
The final field of sixteen plus four emergencies was declared on Wednesday and if the all or some of the reserves fail to gain a start, some the Waller horses could move in closer.
Strawberry Boy has been installed the $5 favourite for the Hawkesbury Gold Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au and the wide barrier shouldn’t affect the on pace runner.
The Redoute’s Choice seven year old races in or near the lead and new rider Kerrin McEvoy should have no trouble finding a prominent position in the early stages on the gelding who could jump from gate eleven if all the emergencies stay at home.
Strawberry Boy has had one run back from a spell for a third to Hawkesbury Gold Cup rival Mighty Lucky in a 1400m BenchMark 100 Handicap at Randwick on April 16 and stable representative Charles Duckworth was happy with his first up effort.
“He ran very well first up with Taylor Marshall on board. Kerrin is back on board, he is retained for those owners now,” Duckworth said.
McEvoy, who is replacing apprentice Taylor Marshal, will be having his first ride on Strawberry Boy who is undefeated from two starts on the Hawkesbury track.
Beaten Up is also well up the market order at $8.50 in a very open betting race and heads to Hawkesbury with one run under his belt when a first up seventh to Hanava Cooler in the Group 3 $150,000 Hyland Race Colours Doncaster Prelude (1500m) at Rosehill on March 26.
Glyn Schofield take the ride on the eight year old who could come in four spots at the start if all four emergencies fail to gain a run.
“Was a good run fresh up. The extra distance will help him out,” Duckworth said about Beaten Up.
Both Amovatio and Tales Of Grimm are listed as $12 chances and Duckworth expects both to be running on at the finish.
Rory Hutchings takes the ride on Amovitao who was a last start fifth in the Doncaster Prelude but will need plenty of luck after drawing barrier nineteen in the original draw.
Tales Of Grimm is the only Waller runner to draw a single digit barrier at three and will strip fitter for one run back from a long break when eleventh to Mighty Lucky at Randwick.
Junoob at $34 and Opinion at $51 are both outsiders of the field and hopefully will be running on at the finish but Duckworth said that both the stayers will need more ground to produce their best.
“Junoob is resuming. 1600m is obviously short of his best. He will go back and hopefully attack the line late,” Duckworth said.
“And Opinion’s first trial wasn’t great but from then he has gone from strength to strength. He is resuming and he needs a lot further than this.”