RAY THOMAS’S BEST BETS
TRAINER Steve Englebrecht has Brogue poised to go one better and finally win the $45,000 Nowra Cup (1600m) at the Showcase meeting.
But rival trainer Adrian Bott is optimistic Grand Finalist will dispel stamina queries and prove the one to beat.
They are two of the chances in a wide-open Nowra Cup where you could make a case for all 11 starters.
Their rivals include consistent duo Nicochet and Weekend Affair from the in-form Jason Coyle stable, trainer of last year’s Nowra Cup winner Vain Elaine.
Brogue was beaten a half-length by Vain Elaine in the cup last year but Englebrecht said his gelding is going into today’s renewal in better form.
In three runs this campaign, Brogue won first-up at Nowra over 1600m, then ran a close second to D’Beak in the Murrumbidgee Cup at Wagga before a ninth, only two lengths behind the winner Joe’s Joy at Canterbury.
“The race at Canterbury turned into a sprint home and that didn’t suit,’’ Englebrecht said.
“I think this race sets up nicely for the horse because he is coming back to the mile where the tempo should be faster. All his best runs have been in races where the pace has been solid. He likes Nowra. He has had two starts there for a win and a second and the horse is going really, really well.’’
Englebrecht’s enthusiasm was matched by Bott, co-trainer of Grand Finalist with Gai Waterhouse.
Grand Finalist, who is partowned by 2GB’s Alan Jones, has been placed at his past two starts at Randwick and Canterbury, the latter over 1500m giving Bott confidence the chestnut will stay the 1600m today.
“Grand Finalist has been racing very consistently,’’ Bott said.
“He was beaten fair and square by a very progressive horse in Seaway last start but he was tough and honest all the way.
“This is a step back in class and he is racing for good prizemoney.’’
The Nowra Cup field has such depth, even the two lowest-rated horses in the field, Slick Speed and Curata Princess, are not out of it.
Ghostly grey Slick Speed resumed with a good third under 61kg to Moss My Name over 1100m at Nowra and he drops 7kg.
Slick Speed seems to save his best for Nowra where he has raced seven times for two wins and four minor placings.
Curata Princess won a class 2 at Hawkesbury three starts back, leading throughout to comfortably beat Live And Free.
Brogue (rails) winning at Canterbury and will be hard to beat at Nowra today.