There have been a number of scratchings from the 2014 Grafton Cup field and 14 horses remain in contention to contest the Listed event at the Clarence River Jockey Clubtomorrow.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller included four horses in the acceptances for the Grafton Cup, but only two have made the trip to Grafton; with imported stayer Permit and Winter Cup placegetter Mulaqen scratched from the $150,000 race.
Ciaron Maher revealed yesterday that he would analyse the Grafton Cup form guide before deciding whether to give Mr O’Ceirin the chance to win the race for the second year in a row and he has decided to scratch the Postponed gelding.
Veteran Brisbane trainer Brian Smith has also ruled Grey Assignment out of the Grafton Cup, while consistent mare High Kin has been another scratching.
The multitude of scratchings has opened up the 2014 Grafton Cup and jockey Matthew Paget believes that the withdrawal of some of the classier horses in the field will give his mount Phrases the opportunity to score an upset win.
Phrases has won just one of his 13 race starts this preparation and tired in the final stages of the Grafton Cup Prelude (2210m) to finish fourth, but Paget told Sky Racing HQ that the Casino Prince gelding was a tough galloper who he hopes will be able to take up a position close to the speed when he jumps from barrier 15 tomorrow afternoon.
“Phrase is one of Bindi Cheers’ horses and if you know Bindi Cheers’ horses they are tough.
“I think tomorrow is a really top class field and there are a few scratchings that have come out to maybe advantage me a bit, but at the end of the day Bindi’s horses you can just never rule them out.
“It is a horse that races on the pace and hopefully if there is a little bit of speed in it, he should just get that nice run.
“He will be one of those horses that keep fighting on.”
Gai Waterhouse-trained Queenstown ($3.80) is now a clear favourite to take out the Grafton Cup from Waller-trained Secessio ($8), imported stayer Garud ($8) and stablemate Travolta ($8.50).
Brave Ali has also been ruled out of the 2014 Grafton Cup due to a bruised heel; with trainer Tony Gollan not keen to run the veteran stayer on the firm Grafton track.