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IT will be the Wyong Gold Cup rather than Murwillumbah Cup for last year’s Newcastle Cameron Handicap winner Wild Chap.

Kembla Grange trainer Brett Lazzarini had been keen to have a second crack at tomorrow’s “Big Dance Eligibility” $70,000 Murwillumbah Cup (1550m), but an awkward barrier draw has resulted in a change of plans. Wild Chap had no luck when a close fourth (under 61kg) to Impasse in last year’s Cup before going under narrowly to Kiss The Bride in a Benchmark 94 Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick and beating only five rivals in the Group 3 Cameron (1500m) at Broadmeadow.

“We’ll stay home and go to the Wyong Cup (2100m), and then he can have a break,” Lazzarini said this morning. “Wild Chap will race in blinkers for the first time. With these older horses, sometimes they need something like that to change their mindset.”

The $240,000 Listed Carlton Wyong Gold Cup will be run next Friday, and the now seven-year-old gelding will be returning to the scene of his first official victory; a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1350m) on August 30, 2020 when also prepared at Kembla Grange, by Mick Tubman.

Wild Chap had led throughout to “win” a 1200m Maiden at Wagga in January that year, but was subsequently disqualified. Lazzarini has since won five races with the gelding (the other four were at Canterbury), but says the penalty for his Cameron victory has had a subsequent major effect on his career. “He went up 16 benchmark points (from 79 to 95) for winning a sub-standard Cameron, and that was the equivalent of four city wins,” he said.

“All but one of the Cameron runners, including my horse, was on the limit (54kg).

“Wild Chap is built like a greyhound, and hasn’t been able to win in nine starts since, and his rating has slowly come down to 84.” Wild Chap has a terrific Wyong record, having started there four times for his debut success and three subsequent seconds. But his trainer is concerned that he is stepping up to the 2100m of next week’s Cup, not having started since mid-July. “There hasn’t been a suitable race for him,” Lazzarini said.

Fellow Kembla Grange trainer Kerry Parker was thrilled with his champ Think It Over’s comeback close sixth in last Saturday’s $1m Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, and is heading to Saturday week’s Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at the same track.

“He was crowded for clear galloping room in the closing stages, and should have been in the placings,” Parker said. “He showed he still has that zest for racing after such a long absence, and Importantly pulled up well.”

Racing NSW stewards opened an inquiry into an incident 75m from the finish, and established that that the slight shift of both winner Fangirl and third placegetter Zaaki had contributed to Think It Over becoming very awkward when placed in restricted room.

“Think It Over will continue on a weight-for-age path to the King Charles III Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on October 14, and Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley a fortnight later,” Parker said.

. Newcastle trainer Paul Perry said Sky Lab’s resumption performance at the same Randwick meeting had “surprised me a bit”.“I expected him to run well as he has won twice first-up before, but probably didn’t expect him to run that well,” he said.

Having his first start since landing the Magic Millions Trophy (2200m) at the Gold Coast in January, Sky Lab was a strong-finishing last to fourth to the promising Buenos Noches in the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m). “Whilst he will be nominated for the Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick at the end of September, I’m not sure that’s the right race for him,” Perry said. “In years gone by, you would have been looking to take Sky Lab to Melbourne for the spring, but there’s no need now as the prizemoney here is outstanding.”

Fellow Newcastle trainer Nathan Doyle claimed his first Sydney midweek quinella on the Kensington track yesterday. Doyle’s Cheerful Legend ($21), resuming from a spell, finished too strongly for stablemate Boston Rocks ($2.80 favorite) in the Benchmark 72 Handicap (1250m), despite conceding him 4kg. Doyle prepared a benchmark 59 winners last season, and has made a flying start to the new season; Cheerful Legend being his seventh winner since August 1, and his career 213th.

Article by John Curtis, 24th August 2023. Photo: Bradley Photos

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