West Australia galloper Ranger’s Australian Cup campaign begins when he steps out for his first Victorian start at Caulfield on Saturday.
Ranger has arrived in Melbourne with good credentials with a Group 2 win and Group 1 placing to his credit and with the booking of big race jockey Craig Williams has been installed as favourite for the Group 3 $125,000 Catanach’s Jewellers Carlyon Cup (1600m).
Trainer Grant Williams is hoping Ranger can follow the same path as Northerly who arrived from the west in 2001 to take out the Carlyon Cup on his way to victory in the Australian Cup.
The five year old was an easy winner four starts back over Grand Nirvana in Group 2 company in the $200,000 Waora-Lee Steere Stakes over 1400m at Ascot on November 5 last year.
And two runs back at Ascot he ran home strongly when one length second to Playing God in the Group 1 $500,000 Kingston Town Classic over 1800m on December 3.
Williams sent Ranger out for a freshen up after finishing third as favourite to God Has Spoken in the Group 2 $225,000 CB Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot.
Ranger arrived in Melbourne with a barrier trial 2nd to Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God who is lining up against Black Caviar in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.
The engagement of Craig Williams will help Ranger overcome the outside barrier in the field of fifteen but Grant Williams doesn’t think the wide alley is that much of a problem as he gets back in races.
“The barrier hasn’t helped us but he’s a get-back runner anyway so the barrier is not too much of a worry as he can go back and get into it late,” the trainer said.
Williams is happy with Ranger’s fitness after finishing a close second in an Ascot barrier trial before leaving Perth.
“The trial switched him on a bit,” Williams said.
“If the real horse turns up I think he has the ability to win.”
After Caulfield on Saturday, Ranger will go to the Group 2 $200,000 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 25 then onto the $1 million Group 1 $1m Dubai Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 10.