Mar­quee’s ‘ Coota’ ap­pear­ance has Pep­per hot to trot

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACE DAY PREVIEW - SHAYNE O’CASS

CUPS spe­cial­ist Mar­quee has en­dured some hard­ships along the path to his seven coun­try cup ap­pear­ances but it will all be worth it if he can win to­day’s Cootamundra Cup (1600m).

The son of Casino Prince has ap­peared in those seven cups races around the state in his past 13 starts, win­ning the Na­rooma Cup in Jan­uary last year.

Mar­quee was run­ner-up in the Moruya Cup im­me­di­ately af­ter his Na­rooma suc­cess as well as much more re­cent plac­ings in the Forbes and Dubbo cups.

In­deed, Mar­quee’s Septem­ber 16 third in the Dubbo fea­ture con­firmed his best form is close at hand, some­thing which seemed un­likely while the horse was off the scene for an ex­tended pe­riod last year.

“His last run put the writ­ing on the wall,’’ trainer Luke Pep­per said.

“Be­ing an older geld­ing now, he’s had a few in­juries late in his ca­reer and has taken a bit to get fit this time in. He’s just hit­ting his straps. His work sug­gests he is at his best and, drawn a soft gate and with the kid’s claim, he gets in great at the weights.’’

The ‘kid’ whom Pep­per speaks of is ap­pren­tice Robbie Dolan who takes 2kg off the horse’s back bring­ing him into the event with 55.5kg, or just 1.5kg over the limit.

“Robbie is com­ing all the way down from Syd­ney to ride him so he ob­vi­ously likes the horse,’’ Pep­per said. “I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to the race.

“The mile is ideal, the track was a bit firm at Dubbo. Hope­fully, the track at Cootamundra has got a lit­tle bit of give in it and he’ll be very hard to beat.’’

To put Mar­quee’s Cootamundra Cup weight into some per­spec­tive, he will carry only a frac­tion more than some horses whose bench­mark rat­ings are 16 points lower.

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