RAY THOMAS’S BEST BETS

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT - RAY THOMAS

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.

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