CRAIG Martin opted out of the Armidale Independent Spring Cup with Devilgate Road yesterday, preferring instead to contest an easier race on Sunday’s program despite carrying more weight.
Martin had nominated his talented four-year-old gelding for both Spring Cup(55.5kg) and the Armidale Independent Benchmark 55 Handicap (59kg) also over 1400m.
However the Tamworth trainer wasn’t tempted to start in the Spring Cup with his improving son of Benicio preferring to “go through his classes” before attempting any mission against open company type horses.
“He’ll start in the B55 rather than the Spring Cup,” Martin said early yesterday before acceptances.
“We’ll send him around with the 59kg. It’s an easier race and Dale (Spriggs) will ride him. That means he cane ride Maso’s (Emperor Gaze) in the Cup.
While the B55 is an easier race and he has the steadier of 59kg he has drawn the one barrier.
“And it’s the same prizemoney, $15,000 (as the Cup)..
“He’s worked well too since Coonamble. It was a hard track out there but he does go well on the hard tracks.”
Martin had intended to start Devilgate Road at the Coonabarabran Cup meeting but elected against tackling Joppick, a subsequent Moree winner, at Coona.
“He was badly weighted for Coona,” he said.
“And probably is for this race at Armidale too but he’s got to go around somewhere. He’s also one of those horses who won’t go through his grades quickly. He’ll be up one day and then have to get back down in the weights to win again.”
Devilgate Road has has 13 starts for his Tamworth owners – Kim Collins, Tony McMahon, Phil Lyne, Mick Paul and Kel Penfold – winning three and placing another five times.
He’s also had two runs at Armidale for two thirds.
“Hopefully he will run well at Armidale, he’s been working well enough and he might pick up a few more yet.”
While he drew well in barrier one in the Class 3 Armidale Jockey Club, Clear Knight drew barrier one in the Spring Cup.
The seven-year-old gelding son of Youthful Legs has won five times from 31 starts for his Tamworth trainer Sheridan Jones and won three from five at Armidale.
Spring Cup topweight, Blinkin Easy, drew barrier two for his Moonbi trainer Ruth Cooper while last year’s Spring Cup winner, Dusty’s Felt, drew barrier five for Armidale trainer Paul Grills.