Day At The Track

Matt craves a local Cup win

07:23 AM 14 Feb 2019 NZDT
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Matt Craven is well positioned to scratch a lifetime itch as he circles the wagons for an almighty tilt at Saturday night’s Terang Co-Op Pacing Cup.

A Queen of the Pacific, Queensland Derby, Need For Speed and a Home Grown Classic are but a few of the titles in the stable’s keeping and the trainer-driver would love to add this year’s beefed up edition of his local cup to his mantelpiece.

“It’d be nice to win a Terang Cup that’s for sure, it’s the home cup and it’s very significant prizemoney,” Craven said of Saturday night’s feature, which has ballooned from $35,000 to $60,000 in stakes.

“It’s always been a big night. If you go back through the honour roll, plenty of nice horses have won Terang Cups – Blacks A Fake, Sokyola, Sunshine Band – it’s definitely not an easy cup to win and this year will be no different. I’d love to win one, that’s for sure.”

Craven has thrown everything at it, with stable star Cant Refuse drawing gate five, recent addition Egodan to start from the pole and Hamilton Pacing Cup winner Wardan Express from the second line.

And, in a further exhibition of the stable’s depth, Roy George is the first emergency, a status briefly bestowed on stablemate Master Moonlite before the latter was scratched after a fracture was found in his sesamoid.

He will have surgery on Friday and Craven said he was “hopeful we will get him back to racing”.

More pleasing is that Cant Refuse carries a clean bill of health into his first start since being a late scratching for the February 2 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup.

“Cant Refuse has been a headline horse for the stable for a few years,” Craven said. “He did us terrifically proud in the Inter Dominion, then it didn’t go to plan when he was a late scratching on Hunter Cup night.

“He just had a little nick on his leg and there was some swelling in his tendon and we didn’t want to risk it, but he was back to normal within three days. He’s had plenty of work, so it shouldn’t affect him too much.”

Craven will take the reins of the six-year-old and is optimistic he can shape the race.

“He has reasonable gate speed and is good enough to hold his own and then work forward,” Craven said. “We will look him to have a forward running.

“If Roy George doesn’t start he will be in to barrier four and is probably a chance to dictate the race, either outside the leader or if he finds the front.

“When you look at his run when he sat in the breeze and won against Motu Gatecrasher (at Melton on November 10) he showed he is more than capable of doing work.”

In his second start for the stable Egodan will also likely be prominent early having impressed in his South Australian Cup fifth placing on Saturday night.

“His run on Saturday night, we thought he went super. He had no luck in the running and the horse who held him out three wide was gone at the 600,” Craven said.

“He still ran home for fifth and did a terrific job. He is only new to the stable, but has come from Kevin Pizzuto’s and is in very good order.”

And then there’s Wardan Express, who’s drawn the second row and is the long shot of the trio.

“He come to the stable last year as a C2 who hadn’t won in 12 months and he has progressed to an M2 and won a Hamilton Cup, so he has done a massive job for the stable.

 “It’s another step up and from the draw this will be really hard. We will look to drive him conservatively and look for the short cuts.”

Despite having a quarter of the field Craven is very wary of the challenges that present in a field of quality and depth.

“(Born To Rocknroll) is a very, very good horse. He has a tricky draw, so it won’t be easy for him. I would put his stablemate, Maraetai, in as one of the main dangers. He is a very progressive horse. He’s more than up to a race like this.

“Both of Geoff (Webster’s) are racing well, you’ve only got to look at the Hunter Cup for a reminder of what Flaming Flutter can do. We’ve got an enormous respect for the whole field.”

 

Michael Howard

for Trots Media

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