Darren Weir’s exciting import Tall Ship has next month’s Warrnambool Cup in his sights after the four-year-old scored a classy win in the Terang Cup on Sunday.
The lightly-raced Sea The Stars gelding lined up for his 11th career start, and just his fourth Australian run, over the weekend with Brad Rawiller guiding him to a narrow victory as the $2.10 favourite in the $50,000 Terang Cup (2150m).
He had just a nose to spare over the runner-up Tuscan Fire, carrying a hefty 61kg, when saluting in his third consecutive country cup success having powered from the back of the pack for his final-stride success over Damien Oliver’s mount.
It was a brave effort from the winner according to Rawiller who was impressed even with the weight relief his champ Tall Ship, carrying 57kg, had over the runner-up.
“Tuscan Fire’s an experienced, seasoned horse and even though he had the big weight it’s hard to get past a horse like him,” Rawiller said in his post-race wrap-up.
“This bloke’s still inexperienced, so it was a good effort.
“He settled really good today and he’s going the right way.”
The Terang Cup win followed earlier victories at Geelong over 1700m on March 22 and the Stawell Cup (2000m) on April 5, stamping Tall Ship as a big hope for the lucrative $200,000 Listed Warrnambool Cup (2350m) on Thursday May 7.
Owner Terry Henderson hopes it doesn’t stop at Warrnambool with Tall Ship, a horse he has rated to go all the way to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival at the end of the year.
“Darren has said all along that if he came through this race well that we’d head there (Warrnambool) and hopefully he’ll race well again there and then he’ll have a break,” Henderson told Racing Victoria on Sunday.
“He’s a true mile-and-a-half, two-mile horse so really we’re not to that distance yet and when we chatted about whether we went to Pakenham (Cup) next week, which is 2000, or here we just thought the extra distance would be to his benefit so it was a good call by Darren.”
The two miles is of course the distance the world’s richest handicap race runs over with the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) a pipedream for connections of all stayers, the ‘race that stops a nation’ run at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
Weir and Rawiller won last year’s Warrnambool Cup with $3 favourite Akzar who blitzed his rivals by six lengths, and so will be shooting for back-to-back wins in the feature with Tall Ship this year.
Selkirk gelding Akzar went on to run a brave fourth to classy mare Streama after the Warrnambool Cup in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in Queensland during last year’s Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
The reigning Warrnambool Cup winner’s latest start was on April 11 on Day 2 of The Championships.
The now eight-year-old Akzar ran fifth behind the Chris Waller-trained roughie Grand Marshal who beat home his better fancied stablemate Who Shot Thebarman in the Group 1 150th Sydney Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Royal Randwick.