Barbed leads Godolphin for Grafton Cup charge

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BarbedBARBED will head the Godolphin team at next week’s Grafton Cup carnival on Wednesday, July 8.

The two-day Grafton carnival features the $150,000 Listed Ramornie Handicap, in which Barbed is currently paying $15 at, followed by the $150,000 Listed Grafton Cup on Thursday.

Godolphin head trainer John O’Shea has nominated five runners from his powerful team for the Wednesday meeting, which features multiple stakes-winner Barbed and Mohave for the Ramornie and Careless for the Grafton Guineas over 1600 metres.

Assistant trainer and former top jockey Darren Beadman said the track conditions will play a big part in which horses line up.

“A lot depends on the track, all our horses, they need dry tracks,” Beadman said.

“Barbed is the main one going.”

The four-year-old has won only three from 18 career starts, but two of those wins came at stakes level. Its latest win came in the Canterbury Classic, where it defeated classy runners Ball Of Muscle and Dothraki.

Its other stakes win came at its second start where it won the Heritage Stakes at Randwick, before running second behind Zoustar in the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes.

Beadman is pleased with its work and believes a dry track will help its cause.

“He trialled extremely well here [Warwick Farm] last Monday and Hughie [Bowman] rode him,” Beadman said.

“He’s had that little freshen up and runs very well fresh.

“The track was soft in the trial and he still trialled very well which was encouraging.”

Current favouritism is shared with three runners; I’ve Got The Looks, Big Money and Dothraki are all quoted at $5.

Fellow Godolphin runner Mohave is priced at $10, but the stable confidence is clearly with Barbed at $15.

Shiraz blitzes rivals in fog-ridden trial

The Tony McEvoy-trained Shiraz won its recent trial at Hawkesbury by 5.25 lengths, but the action could only be witnessed in the final stages due to a thick fog over the track.

The time of 1.01 for the 1000-metre distance suggests the effortless win was a good one as it was a second faster than any of the five other 1000-metre trials held that day.

“He motored through the heavy going,” rider Jeff Penza said. “You probably can’t see it on the vision but he went with the others until about the 300-metre mark then let down impressively showing a great turn of foot to put them away.”

Trainer Tony McEvoy couldn’t have been more happy with how Shiraz has come back after a spell.

“He’s a better horse this time around,” McEvoy said. “He’s got some meat on that strong frame of his. That’s come with age and he’s going as good as he’s ever gone for me.”

Shiraz makes its return in the Benchmark R95 at Rosehill on Saturday and bookmakers are offering $4.80 to win.

McEvoy states he would have liked an easier start to this campaign, but its form reads well ahead of the 1100-metre race.

“I would have preferred to kick him off in something easier but he’s on the minimum, has a good fresh record and loves the 1100-metres at Rosehill,” McEvoy said.

“He’s fit and ready to go. My only question mark would be the likelihood of a heavy track, but in saying that his trial was on the heavy, but it was only a trial.”

Imported stayer looking to strike at Rosehill

The Paul Perry-trained Der Meister is looking to continue the good form for imported stayers in Australia this Saturday.

The four-year-old stayer lines up in the More Than Ready @ Vinery Benchmark 75 at Rosehill and it wasn’t disgraced last start at a higher level.

“The 3200-metres won’t be enough for him,” stable foreman Shannon Perry said. “He’ll stay all day. He’s a very good horse going on what he shows us at home.”

The Irish-bred gelding by Mastercraftsman had won three from four in the UK before coming to Australia, and it came close last start to recapturing its best form.

“He is a serious racehorse,” Perry said. “He’s sound and the back-up into 2400-metres this week looks perfect.”

It placed in the Benchmark R84 behind Maurus last week and it does rise in weight by 3kg, but in-form French rider Thomas Huet takes the ride and punters can get $7 at CrownBet for the gelding this Saturday.

Change of gear for promising filly

The John O’Shea-trained Alegria will wear blinkers for the first time this Saturday in the TAB Rewards Handicap at Rosehill.

The three-year-old daughter of Medaglia D’Oro resumed this preparation with a strong win at Warwick Farm, but it has finished out of the placings in two runs since.

Punters have been burned on both occasions as it was sent out the $2.50 and $5 favourite, but assistant trainer Darren Beadman believes the change of gear can see it return to winning form.

“She’s doing really well, we’re happy with her,” Beadman said. “She’s got the blinkers on for the first time and I think that will help her.

“Every time that she’s performed and run well, she’s been back and chimed in so that’s her style of racing.

“We just need to get her confidence up again and get a win on the board.”

Blinkers have been popular by all four of Medaglia D’Oro’s stakes winners – Vancouver, Federal, Java and Nostrodamus, have all worn blinkers throughout their career.

Alegria is currently paying $4 to win with Sportsbet on Saturday and Hugh Bowman has been booked to ride.

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