VALATIA has snuck into Friday’s $35,000 Akubra Quirindi Showcase Cup (1600m), as the horse's Quirindi trainer Scott Thompson looks to end his family's drought in the race.
The eight-year-old bay gelding is one of two Quirindi-trained horses to make the field, joining the Geoff O’Brien-trained Vega de Lago in the 14-horse feature.
While Vega de Lago has drawn barrier six and will be ridden by leading Hunter and North West Racing Association jockey Greg Ryan, Valatia has drawn barrier one.
Thompson has booked Newcastle apprentice Louise Day to ride Valatia, a gelding son of Valixir.
Thompson has never won a Quirindi Cup. Neither has his father, legendary trainer Bill “Bot” Thompson. “It’s about the only Cup he hasn’t won,” Thompson said.
Valatia has had three starts on his home track. The closest he came to winning there was in his maiden, when he ran fourth in February 2016. In 45 starts he has won five races for $91,185 in prizemoney.
Four of his five wins have come at Scone, where he has won four of his 11 starts, while his other win was his maiden victory at Dubbo.
The horse has been given 54kg in the Cup, dropping 4kg from what he carried in a close third to Komachi Force in a tough 1700m at Walcha last Friday. But with Day’s 1.5kg claim, he will drop even further.
“He is a bit out of his grade (in the Cup). But he’s down in weight and drawn well,” Thompson said. “He should have won at Walcha too. He is fit and healthy. [I'll] keep my fingers crossed.”
Thompson described Quirindi as a "momentum track.” “Horses have got to keep their momentum,” he said.
He may enter Valatia in a benchmark 58 mile at Scone next week.
"He loves Scone," the trainer said.
The Cup field is a strong one. Coffs Harbour Cup winner Glitra backs up from his good third to I Wanna Be A Jeep in last Friday’s Elders Walcha Cup (1440m). He drew barrier two at Walcha but will come out of 10 on Friday, with Andrew Gibbons on board.
Gibbons, who rode a double to break through the thousand winners barrier on Monday at Tamworth, has ridden and won on Glitra before, snaring his maiden win at Port Macquarie in November 2016 as well as winning his next start in a Tuncurry Class 2.
Glitra carried 62.5kg last Friday and drops a kilo for Friday’s Cup as he chases a ninth career win at his 41st start.
He has won $220,300 in prizemoney for his Port Macquarie-based trainer John Sprague and connections.
While Glitra has drawn 10, topweight Goldstream, trained by Cody Morgan, has drawn 13. An Italian Derby winner, Goldstream will be ridden by Scone apprentice Reece Jones, who claims 3kg off the gelding’s 63.5kg impost.
The Jeff Englebrecht-trained Hammond Lane has also drawn wide (12). Newcastle geldings Plaisir (David Atkins) and San Fransisco (Paul Perry) have drawn 15 and 14 respectively.
Mack Griffith’s Most Exalted fared better in the barrier draw and will jump from barrier seven with Chris O’Brien on board.
Most Exalted, a six-year-old gelding son of Street Cry, has won four of his 33 starts and has amassed $229,125 in prizemoney.