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Australian Racing: Youth Spirit out for Cup success

Soft ground is the order of the day with Grafton, Bendigo, Northam and Ipswich all set to race on a sound surface while the track at Gosford is rated a heavy 10.

Spirit for Cup win

The 2350m Grafton Cup comes up as the seventh race on the Grafton card with Dr Drill for the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace training partnership looking likely to jump as favourite following a couple of second place finishes in Cup races.

The most recent of those came when beaten two-and-a-half-lengths on a good 4 track in the W. J. McKell Cup over 2000m at Rosehill last month. Raced from off the pace on that occasion and the seven-year-old rates a worthy favourite having placed in the G2 Zipping Classic over 2400m at Caulfield last spell.

European import Youth Spirit showed good form when trained in the UK last year including when finishing a close up third in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes over 2400m on good going at York in August.

Looked to find the trip on the sharp side when finishing fourth over 2000m in the previously mentioned W. J. McKell Cup at Rosehill on his debut for the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott team. Jockey Jean Van Overmeire takes over from Tim Clark and he is taken to steer the four-year-old to victory second up.

Hopeful for Ipswich triumph

The most valuable race on the Ipswich card is the 1690m Ipswich Events Handicap, a Class 3 event set to take place as the seventh race on the card.

Tiffani Brooker’s mount Du Maurier is well fancied in the market following two wins at Gold Coast including over 1700m Benchmark 65 contest last month. Handles wet tracks but may find at least one too good on this occasion. 

Jockey Jag Guthmann-Chester has won on five of his 22 mounts here in the last year and he gets the leg up on Contreras, winner of his last two starts including by a narrow margin on a good 4 track in a Class 1 event over 1800m at Sunshine Coast last month.

However a wide draw in 11 is a negative with regards his chances here and the inside draw of Hopeful Star can see her register a fourth career success.

Trained by Katina Cotsiopoulous the mare has placed second on three of six starts this spell including when runner-up in a Class 6 event over this course and distance at the end of last month.

The form of the picks second place finish in a Benchmark 68 event over 1400m at Sunshine Coast on her penultimate start has been boosted by a subsequent win for the third home and Mark Du Plessis, on board for four of the mares starts this spell should be able to tuck in behind the pacesetters with Badge Of Gameness and Willinga Panache contenders to fill that role despite their wide draws.

Harper to break maiden

Divine Flash showed plenty of ability for the Maher and Eustace team when debuting with a second on the synthetic surface at Ballarat on debut last month.

That effort came when beaten less than a length in an 1100m maiden contest with her rider here Harry Coffey in the saddle. Jumped as favourite that day and she rates a leading player in the second race on the Bendigo card.

Vying for favouritism with Divine Flash is Harper Rae, a daughter of Divine Prophet who caught the eye when finishing fourth over 1200m in a Cranbourne maiden on a heavy 9 track. Had to defy a wide barrier draw that day but has been dealt a kinder hand in that regard jumping six off the rail in this contest.

The forecast soft 6 going here should prove no issue and with that experience under belt Harper Rae looks up to breaking her maiden at the second attempt.

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