One of Bathurst’s most reliable veterans, Saloon Passage, has a title to defend when he travels to Orange’s Towac Park for Sunday’s Carnival of Cups finals day.
Saloon Passage, trained by Eglinton’s Nathan Hurst, is chasing his second straight success in the Banjo Paterson Cup (1,609 metres) at Towac Park.
Last year’s victory went down as one of his gutsiest career efforts after he peeled wide on the run for home and chased down Rykov Leis in the closing metres.
Does the nine-year-old have what it takes to deliver Hurst another win at the Orange grass track?
His trainer certainly thinks so.
“I’m rapt with the job he’s done ever since he came across from New Zealand. He’s the best horse we’ve had,” he said.
“It’s probably a similar looking field to last year so he has to be in with a chance. The only thing is that the track is more favoured towards on-pace runners most of the time.
“Last year he overcame that and won so hopefully he can do that again.”
With the race ordered by grading Saloon Passage will start widest on the back row.
He’s joined by experienced company on the back, such as last-start city winner Smokey Quartz (KerryAnn Turner), former Oberon Cup winner Parramatta (Amanda Turnbull), fellow nine-year-old Intransit (Steve Turnbull) plus the horse he narrowly beat to the line last year, Rykov Leis (James Rattray).
Saloon Passage trialled well recently for a win in a mile rate of 1:56.8.
“It’s good to give him that trial and get him a bit sharper for this weekend. He should run well,” Hurst said.
“He’s probably strong enough to around them early but we’ll wait and see what happens.”
Steve Turnbull has the largest presence in the field with Intransit, Modern Maestro and Cherry Mahoney.
The cup starts 5.47pm, with the first of Orange Harness Racing Club’s feature meeting jumping at 2.28pm.
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