First Lady Of The Turf Gai Waterhouse will be chasing back to back wins in the Listed $150,000 Blanchard Haulage Grafton Cup (2350m) when she saddles up Bonfire at Grafton today.
Waterhouse won last year’s version of the Grafton Cup with Queenstown and has followed a similar lead up program for Bonfire.
Queenstown was having her third run back from a break when she scored a three lengths win twelve months ago and Bonfire will also go into the Grafton Cup third up.
The English import raced on the pace first up when fourth to Sons Of John in the Group 3 $150,000 Panthers Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) at Hawkesbury June 7 and then chased home Grafton Cup rival Kapour when second on a heavy track in the Listed $100,000 Ronald McDonald House Westmead Winter Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on June 27.
Stable representative Mark Newnham is confident that Bonfire has done effort in his two runs this campaign to have him primed up for today’s encounter and back on top of the ground will also be in his favour.
“Queenstown won it off a similar preparation last year and Bonfire’s certainly done enough miles,” Waterhouse’s stable representative Mark Newnham told AAP.
“He’s still carrying plenty of weight but natural improvement, back on a firmer track than what he’s had, that will advantage him as well.”
Bonfire still has a couple of hurdles to overcome after being lumped with the top weight of 59kg and jockey Blake Shinn will have to let the six year old roll forward quickly from barrier twelve to cross the field before the first turn out of the straight.
Waterhouse will be trying to win her third Grafton Cup after collecting the winning trophy with Rocking On with Jamie Innes in the saddle in 2006.
The Ciaron Maher trainer Kapour will meet Bonfire on 2kg worse terms for beating him by four and a half lengths after leading all of the way in the Winter Cup and the pair could have a tactical duel up on the pace again.
Kapour is currently holding down the spot at the top of the market order for the Grafton Cup with Ladbrokes.com.au keeping him safe at $3.50.
Bonfire is on the second line of betting at $5.50 just ahead of the Chris Waller trained Reigning at $6 and Gerald Ryan’s Shoreham at $7.50.
Grafton Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.50 Kapour, $5.50 Bonfire, $6 Reigning, $7.50 Shoreham, $8 Danchai, $9 Banca Mo, $13 Darci Be Good, $17 Dream Folk, $21 Archean, $31 Noisy Ocean, $41 Phrases, $81 Rapidus, $101 Mullet Man, Kingston Time.