It’s Cup day at Newcastle this Friday with the 2300m Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup the feature race on an eight race card that also includes two other Group 3 contests. There’s also a provincial meeting at Kilcoy and country fixtures at Ballarat Synthetic and Canberra.
In the big race at Newcastle former European galloper Durston delivered a victory at Caulfield in October last year on his second start since switching hemispheres when having his main rival here Mankayan back in second.
Failed to shine in his first two starts this spell however including when last of 11 in the Group 3 Premier’s Cup over 2000m at Randwick last month but the seven-year-old returned to form with a triumph in the 2100m Wyong Gold Cup at Wyong at the start of this month.
Chris Waller’s charge has a good draw here having drawn the rail but this looks a tougher affair with Bjorn Baker’s Arapaho having taken out the previously mentioned Group 3 Premier’s Cup on his penultimate start while the selection, Mankayan has been in great form this spell winning three of his four starts this spell.
Trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace Mankayan has had his favoured wet tracks on three of those four outings including when winning a five runner 2040m handicap at Moonee Valley just under a month ago.
Raced in second on that occasion and expect similar tactics in this contest with the gelding having won or placed on all five of his previous starts on going described as soft.
Ben Melham, on board for the first time last time out retains the ride and while the pick suffered a defeat when meeting Durston at Caulfield in October last year he had excuses that day having returned with lacerations and looking an improved performer this time around is selected to register a Cup victory in the Newcastle Gold Cup.
Katalin has shown good form in two starts this spell following up a third in a 1200m Benchmark 88 contest at Rosehill in August with a close up second over 1350m in a competitive event at Wyong at the start of this month.
Both of those efforts came on the forecast soft ground and having raced wide without cover from a poor draw last time out connections may count themselves unlucky not to have won with the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.
James McDonald, on board on that occasion takes the ride here and while Katalin has again been drawn wide she should be able to slot in behind rivals here while the extra distance is no issue having scored over this trip at Rosehill in December last year.
Tsunami Sam is expected to jump as favourite for the 1000m Benchmark 64 contest that is set to take place as the fourth race on the Ballarat Synthetic card.
Jamie Mott’s mount delivered a victory when making his debut in an 1100m event at Ruakaka in New Zealand in July last year while he tackled a metro contest last of thirteen on a good 3 track over this trip at Caulfield in January on his only subsequent start.
Bled from a nostril that day and while he tackles an easier event here the son of Shamexpress is opposable with preference for top weight El Salto.
The Brent Stanley-trained gelding has shown good form this spell following up a half-length win over this trip at this level on a heavy 9 track at Echuca last month with a runner-up finish in a similar event over the same distance at Mornington on 2nd September.
Finished strongly last time out and is selected to make his first start on a synthetic surface a winning one with Liam Riordan in the saddle.