Written by Anthony Manton
Randwick trainer John Thompson ventures down to Moruya on Monday aiming to claim another feature south coast cup with Cuba (All Too Hard) in the $50,000 1650 metre Moruya Cup.
Almost twelve months ago Thompson made the longer 6 hour plus float trip down the Princes Highway to the Sapphire Coast and won the $50,000 Bega Cup with Makeadane (Bel Danoro) and this year Cuba looks set for similar success.
“This race fitted in with where he was at perfectly, he races best with his runs spaced and it looks ideal for him three weeks between runs and third-up at a mile” said Thompson.
Cuba has drawn barrier (4) in the cup for apprentice rider Chris Williams who himself is making his first trip to the Moruya circuit however he will get a little bit of practice in before the big one having picked-up a couple of earlier rides for Wagga trainer Chris Heywood.
“Chris is based next door with Les Bridge and he’s riding well, he had a winner at Canberra on Friday and a couple last week, he’s in good form” said Thompson.
In two runs this preparation Cuba has finished third and second at Wyong both over 1350 meters and looks set to peak third-up at the mile now while dropping significantly in weight to carry only 55.5 kilograms after the claim for Williams. In his most recent run Cuba chased home subsequent city winner and the highly regarded Fuchu (All Too Hard), strong form-lines for this race.
“A couple of the key chances ran Saturday at Randwick and have been scratched so the race falls away slightly and he looks to get the right run from a good gate”.
With rain over the weekend on the south coast the prospect of a wet track also poses no problem to Cuba.
“He’s a genuine horse who always put in and handles all conditions." - Trainer, John Thompson
“He’s a genuine horse who always put in and handles all conditions. He’s in good order and should be hard to beat” said Thompson.
Cuba was a $250,000 purchase at the 2016 Magic Millions Yearling sales, he’s from the dam Tabasco Kitten a daughter of Group 1 winning mare La Baraka. Earlier this year his half-sister a filly by I Am Invincible sold for $600,000 at the Inglis Australia Easter Yearling Sale.
It has become the norm for city trainers to travel horses to the country tracks with such good prize-money on offer in New South Wales and especially for the feature cup races such as the Moruya Cup.
"He’s in good order and should be hard to beat." - John Thompson
The Moruya Cup has attracted strong representation from leading Canberra stables Barbara Joseph and Paul & Matt Jones with Croix de Vie (Beneteau), Matt Dale saddles up the favourite and horse to beat Animalia (Animal Kingdom) while the talented Cliff (Canford Cliffs) for Queanbeyan trainer Joe Cleary cannot be underestimated.
Local mare and track specialist Belle Tournure (Ad Valorem) will be a popular result as she chases three straight wins and comes into the race in career best form. Twelve months ago Belle Tournure had not yet won a maiden and has made rapid progression since then.
Another horse coming into the race in career best form is Appoint Percy (Sir Percy). Trained by Luke Pepper at Canberra he won two in-a-row at Canberra before running a narrow second in the $50,000 Mudgee Cup 1600 metres in early December and finished close-up at Randwick last start. He will need to overcome the outside barrier to win the cup.
The Moruya Cup is the first leg of three south coast cups in the area over summer with the $35,000 1650 metre Narooma Cup run at Moruya on January 21 and the $50,000 1600 metre Bega Cup run at the Sapphire Coast February 3.