The Gladstone Cup is run today at Ferguson Park and organisers expect a bumper crowd and first-class racing.
The Gladstone Cup is run today at Ferguson Park and organisers expect a bumper crowd and first-class racing. File

Exciting time at the track

THE well-worn horse racing axiom “horses for courses” will get quite a few runs at the bumper Gladstone Cup race meeting at Ferguson Park racecourse today, where sand track specialists invariably perform at their best.

That principal will certainly be put to the test by backers of the leading contenders for the $15,000 Veolia Environmental Services Gladstone Cup (1608m) in the form of Telfire, Sea Dynasty and La Piazza who in the past have adapted well to sand track racing.

Telfire, prepared at Gracemere by in-form trainer Jim O’Shea, is the fresh horse on the block as he arrives for the Cup with 57.5kg under leading Rockhampton rider Luke Dillon rested from a 35 days break from racing.

O’Shea sees that as arguably the horse’s biggest hurdle.

“He can handle the track. Back in 2008 he ran third at Gladstone in the Newmarket behind Top’s Lad – that was his only start at Gladstone. I really think he will race well I just hope he is not too fresh,” O’Shea said.

Enhancing Telfire’s CV for sand-track racing was a splendid second behind Nevada Gambler in the Gympie Cup (1600m) last August.

Furthermore, at Telfire’s only start away from turf on a synthetic track he finished a strong fifth behind Jussemi in last year’s Toowoomba Cup.

Telfire’s racing pattern is to settle and get back in the pack, which under the steadier of 57.5kg could be a negative at Gladstone but that is compensated by his stoutness and strength in a dog fight at the finish.

Probable Cup favourite, the Darryl Johnston trained Sea Dynasty, has a 100 per cent winning record at Ferguson Park.

And who could forget his memorable win for partners Johnston and jockey Trinity Bannon in the 2009 Gladstone Cup under 55kg?

With just a half-kilogram more to carry in the 2010 Cup version, Sea Dynasty seems perfectly placed today with just 55.5kg.

Last year he went on to win the Thangool Cup shortly after his Ferguson Park success and his time-clock has chimed-in at the right time as Sea Dynasty won last start at Mackay on July 27.

“I believe he is going better this year than the corresponding time last year,” said trainer Johnston, who will also start roughie Manila Warrior.

Then there is trainer Pat Brennan’s tough Thangool mare La Piazza who has earned prizemoney at both her Gladstone runs.

At her last start at Ferguson Park, La Piazza won a Class 2 (1517m) on January 10, 2009, but she comes into contention today on the back of a Rockhampton 2218 metres Open Handicap win on July 22.

Veterans, the former Melbournites Tantat Secret (60.5kg) and Tszyu (57.5kg), had formidable records as younger horses but they are untried at Gladstone which makes for an even more cryptic outcome of the Cup.

Even with the scratching of topweight Don Caudillo (64kg) from the co-feature $12,000 Len Smith Carpet Court Gladstone Newmarket (1194m) the possible outcome of the race is still anyone’s guess.

Only two of the seven Newmarket starters – Go The Red and Countershy have ever raced at Ferguson Park and neither has really sparkled.

So, on the basis of “lucks a lottery”, the O’Shea-trained Snorkel (Luke Dillon) and Clive Large’s stallion Ready Royal (John Stephens) seem as good a chance as any.

Gus Philpot, best remembered as the jockey of “ring-in” Fine Cotton at Eagle Farm 16 years ago, today gets his chance to land a winner after his recent comeback in the form of the Paul Curtis trained Dane King in the second race, the Maiden (1000m).

Local racing starts at Ferguson Park at 1.15pm and here jockey Adrian Coome and Bundaberg trainer Bernard Hammond should team for victory with Don’t You Worry.

A huge crowd is expected to be trackside to hear the final race call of renowned Brisbane race caller Wayne Wilson who 50 years ago today launched his broadcasting career by calling a humble Maiden Handicap at Ferguson Park.

Tony McMahon’s Gladstone race selections:

1: Don’t You Worry; Monashee Star; Hayil and Hearty.

2: Dane King; Carry The Ming; One More Spin.

3: Snorkel; Ready Royal; Columate.

4: Sea Dynasty; Telfire; La Piazza.

5: Inverness; Hot Flushes; Lord Downer.

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