Raceday focus: Forbes
GETTING a horse to peak on the big day is a hard task and for trainer Terry Croft, the Forbes Cup (1600m) has been a year in the making.
When No Escape won a Class 1 at the same race meeting in 2017, Croft's owners dared to dream and he's hoping to deliver for them in today's big race.
"A long-term plan never comes off and the owners said after we won last year that they wanted to come and have a crack at the cup this year and I told them, it was an option," Croft said.
"We take horses to Forbes every year and we've won a race for the past three years. I don't have many holidays and this is my holiday."
No Escape is coming off a tough run in town last start when third over 1400m, but it was the class of horses he competed with, and beat, that's going to make him hard to defeat in a country cup.
BEST BET: NO ESCAPE (Race 7, No. 2)
Won a Class 1 race on this day last year but returns today for the Forbes Cup. He won a good race at Dubbo before his last start when beaten a length by Kaonic at Randwick.
NEXT BEST: GO THE GANTRY (Race 8, No. 2)
Has only won three from 30 but has placed 20 times, including 12 seconds. Importantly, won last start with Greg Ryan up and 61kg on his back. Follow up.
BEST VALUE: MOROTAI (Race 1, No. 16)
Brett Thompson-trained galloper who is busting to break through after consecutive seconds at his past two appearances. Has Nick Heywood up and is drawn to get some favours in the run.
JOCKEY TO FOLLOW: GREG RYAN
Who else but Greg Ryan. There is no better jockey in the country areas - never has been - than Ryan, who has not surprisingly ended up with the pick of the rides at Forbes.
BEST EXOTIC: QUADDIE
Race 5: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6
Race 6: 2, 3, 5, 6
Race 7: 2
Race 8: 1, 2
No Escape beat home Redouble, Curdled and Sanctioned that day and finished a length off the winner, Kaonic.
"We're ecstatic with how he's going and every time I've lifted the bar with this horse he's improved," Croft said. "I ran him at Randwick last start because it would have been five weeks between runs going into the cup and I was just hoping he'd run in the top six so he ran better than I thought.
"It was a pretty good field. Kaonic has measured up at Group 1 level."
Apprentice Qin Yong gets back on him after the pair combined for two wins earlier this preparation, including one at Mudgee two starts back.
His 3kg claim is vital and No Escape only has to carry 55.5kg now and Croft is more than happy to stay loyal to the inexperienced hoop even though he's drawn out wide.
"He's ridden the horse well each time and never done a thing wrong," Croft said.
"James Innes asked me where I was taking him after that last run and I said the Forbes Cup and he was keen to come out and ride him but I've stuck loyal to Qin and we'll get a weight relief.
"He's got a wide gate but there's a long run to the first turn from the 1600m start so it doesn't worry me too much a he'll go forward and be up on the speed."
A win on Monday would not only be a great training performance by the Hawkesbury horseman but would mean No Escape cracks it for a win over 1600m for the first time.
That would be the only query with him at his first attempt at the trip.
He's run well over 1500m at the provincials in the past and as long as he doesn't have to do too much work from to get into a good spot on the speed he'll be there late.
"I hope he's a good winning chance. He's just got better and better every preparation after not thinking much of him as a two-year-old," Croft said.
"He's a tall, but light horse and he's thickened up now."
INSIDE MAIL WITH SHAYNE O'CASS: FORBES
Morotai was scratched from the subsequent race to start here even though he was listed as the fourth emergency. He ran second at his past two, at Dubbo and Warren. Should race handy here and be hard to hold out. Working Together has been thereabouts in most of her dozen starts, not least last start when lodging her best performance. Arnault was good before his last start and can easily bounce back.
BET: MOROTAI WIN. BOX TRIFECTA 2, 4, 11, 6.
Brave King is also a fourth emergency but will be popular if he starts. Ran a huge race at Gunnedah on debut then was better than he looked when down the order at Moree. Has the talent. See For Yourself dropped out from the lead to finish second last at Warren last start but is better than that. Just needs luck early from her wide alley. Seishin turned in her best run last start and has drawn favourably.
BET: BRAVE KING WIN.
Stately Boy is winless after 25 starts and only has four placings but has been pretty close at his last few. Normally gets back and runs on but may settle closer from the rails draw. Lake Hayes is a former Chris Waller-trained mare in the China Horse Club string now with Brett Cavanough. Has been going around in better company. Big watch. Sorry I'm Awesome is a 20-start maiden but has claims here.
BET: STATELY BOY WIN. QUINELLA 4, 8.
Greg Ryan was on board when Future Road wound up late to finish fourth. That was 17 days after he won narrowly but impressively at Gunnedah. The 1400m should be perfect today so watch for him to charge home late. Good Verdict is a member of the prolific Cameron Crockett camp at Mudgee and put the writing on the wall for a bold bid today with a flashing third at Dubbo over 1310m. Burrangong has been in great form.
BET: FUTURE ROAD EACH-WAY.
Prince Jacko has only won two from 21 but has placed 10 times, seven of them seconds and one of those to handy Japanese-bred Bocelli at Goulburn. Resumes here and has compelling fresh record. Looks wound up for today. Market watch essential. Another McCloud beat Little Bertie first-up and that horse won at Coonamble on Saturday. Lightly raced type who has barely put a hoof wrong. Taking Liberties, Armedanddangerous, Panuara and Greg Ryan mount Yeas And Nays are in the mix.
BET: PRINCE JACKO WIN. BOX TRIFECTA 1, 2, 3, 4, 6.
Smart Attire is a Greg Ryan mount so is sure to be popular with punters. Has drawn barrier three and been consistent this campaign. Will be prominent throughout. Dapperized ran fourth to his well-credentialed stablemate Galaxy Warrior three starts back. Been a little bit disappointing since but can improve. Al Cubana has performed creditably against better than these.
BET: SMART ATTIRE WIN.
No Escape won the Class 1 on this day last year and is back with a tremendous chance of taking out the Forbes Cup main event. Won a feature race at Dubbo on July 1 then 20 days later finished a length behind Kaonic at $101 at Randwick. Marquee is on the way back from injury and looks to be peaking for this. Sovereignaire was five lengths behind No Escape at Dubbo but can get closer today.
BET: NO ESCAPE (BEST BET) WIN. EXACTA 2 TO BEAT 1. BOX TRIFECTA 2 (STANDOUT) TO BEAT 1, 9, 11, 12 (BOXED).
Greg Ryan can send his army of fans home happy with a win aboard Go The Gantry. This six-year-old gelding has won just three of his 30 starts but run second 12 times and third eight times. One of those rare wins came last start with Ryan up and carrying 61kg. Hangin' With Willy won on this same day last year and returns in great shape. Ran a super race at Albury in the Open sprint seven days ago. Ten-year-old Not Wanted could sneak into the placings fresh.
BET: GO THE GANTRY WIN, EXACTA 2 TO BEAT 1.