Co-trainer Leon Macdonald is hoping to put the disappointment of Waging War (Rebel Raider) being scratched at the barriers before the South Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) behind him when the three-year-old lines up in today’s Port Adelaide Cup (Listed, 2500m).
Waging War, who has won his past three starts including the SAJC Chairman’s Stakes (Gr 3, 2030m) on 29 April, is one of the leading contenders for Macdonald and his training partner Andrew Gluyas at Morphettville today.
The co-trainers will also saddle Royal Rumble (New Approach) in the R A Lee Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m), who has also won his past three starts, Pretty Punk (Rebel Raider) in the SA Fillies Classic (Gr 3, 2500m) and Gogo Grace (New Approach) in the Proud Miss Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m).
Macdonald told ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday that the long delay prior to the South Australian Derby led to Waging War playing up and scratched at the barriers.
“He was scratched at the barriers after standing in there for nearly ten minutes. He just had a bit of blood in his mouth and the vet wouldn’t let him run,” Macdonald said.
“This race wasn’t on the agenda for him but seeing him the past week and we want to see if he will run a trip. I am fairly sure he will and he is going to get better as he gets older.
“Next spring who knows where he will end up. He might take the next step and he has already taken a step from a couple of country wins to a Group Three race.”
To be ridden by regular jockey Clare Lindop from barrier 12, Waging War is likely to settle back in the field early from the wide draw.
Macdonald said Waging War, who is by his former Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) winner Rebel Raider (Reset), had always shown talent.
“He’s shown us a bit and we took him to the country (at Strathalbyn on 5 April) to win a mile race and then he went to Murray Bridge (over 2206 metres) against olders to see if he would stay because he is by Rebel Raider out of a Galileo mare,” he said.
“It wasn’t a very strong race, but he won pretty well by three lengths and went on to win the Chairman’s Stakes at his next start.
“There were a few hard luck stories in that race, but he went to the front before the turn and won, so I don’t think there were too many excuses (for his rivals).”
Waging War is rated a $10 chance with CrownBet behind the $2 favourite, the Darren Weir-trained High Church (High Chaparral), who won the Warrnambool Cup (Listed, 2350m) last start, and the Tony McEvoy-trained Time To Test (Testa Rossa) ($4.40)
Meanwhile, Macdonald said Royal Rumble ($9) deserved his chance in the R A Lee Stakes after winning his past three starts at Morphettville.
A four-year-old gelding, Royal Rumble takes on the Weir-trained Burning Front (Primus), who is the $2 favourite after winning the VOBIS Gold Mile (1600m) at Caulfield on 22 April, Victoria Handicap (Gr 3, 1400m) winner Hooked (Casino Prince) ($3.40) and last start Caulfield winner Rhythm To Spare (Pins) ($5.50).
“He has won his last three and is obviously going very well, but it is a good class race and while he is not badly in on the weight scale, neither is Burning Front,” the Morphettville-based trainer said.
“He is always a chance as he is a very honest horse. From barrier seven he’ll go back as he always goes back.”
Hill Smith Stakes (Listed, 1800m) winner Pretty Punk has raced below Macdonald’s expectations this campaign, but the trainer is hopeful the step up to 2500 metres will see the three-year-old in contention in the SA Fillies Classic.
As well as her Listed victory, Pretty Punk also ran third in the Geelong Classic (Listed, 2200m) last October and was fourth in the Laelia Stakes (Listed, 1600m) at Morphettville on 8 April, a race won by the Weir-trained Kenedna (Not A Single Doubt) three starts ago.
On Wednesday, Pretty Punk drew barrier 18 in the field of 16 plus three emergencies, with the the Robbie Griffiths-trained So Distinct (So You Think) having already been scratched from the Group Three race.
“She hasn’t had a lot of luck in her races this time in. Once again she has no luck where she is drawn. It would be fair to say she has been a bit disappointing this preparation,” he said.
“She ran third in a Geelong Classic over 2200 metres and then ran fifth in the Wakeful over 2000 metres, so I think she will run the trip. Her worst run was in the Australiasian Oaks, but that was a hot race and I don’t think this race is of that quality.”
In the last race Macdonald and Gluyas have Gogo Grace in the Proud Miss Stakes for fillies and mares and will be ridden by Lindop from barrier 15 with three scratchings already confirmed yesterday.
Gogo Grace won a Benchmark 70 over 1100 metres against her own sex at Morphettville first up on 4 March and came from last to run fifth over 1050 metres last Saturday at the Adelaide racecourse.
Macdonald said the three-year-old appeared outclassed but connections were hoping to add value to her as a broodmare with a strong stakes race performance.
“It is a very strong race I thought and from her wide barrier she will have her work cut out,” he said.
“We are just trying to get a bit of black type with her. Her first up win was solid and her last start was pretty good as she came from three lengths last on the home turn to finish it off well (to run fifth) over 1050 metres.”