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Hasta La War heads Birthday Cup field

Promising South-East stayer Hasta La War will take the next step on a possible TAB Adelaide Cup campaign in Saturday’s $100,000 Listed Holdfast Insurance Birthday Cup at Morphettville.

The lightly raced gelding is shooting for five straight wins in the 2043m feature, a traditional stepping stone to next month’s 3200m staying classic.

Trained at Naracoorte by Sue Murphy, Hasta La War posted a fast-finishing last-start 1600m win at the Murray Bridge metropolitan meeting on January 18, prompting the black-type test this weekend.

Apprentice Tegan Voorham has been aboard on all six of Hasta La War’s wins – from just 10 starts – and will be aiming to pilot the four-year-old son of Declaration of War into the pointy end of Cup calculations.

The Murray Bridge run was the horse’s first start since it took out a $100,000 stayers’ final over 2500m at Morphettville in early November.

The 2020 Holdfast Insurance Birthday Cup has drawn together a solid field of stayers, with Victorian raider Rising Red – trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young – heading the weights (60kg).

In addition to Hasta La War, fellow SA runner Dr Dependable – prepared by the Macdonald-Gluyas stable – will be a leading hope in the event, coming off ultra-consistent recent form, including top-three finishes at his past 11 starts. Victory would give the Mcdonald-Gluyas stable three Birthday Cups in the past four years after Wasabi Bob saluted last year and Mail It In romped home in 2017.

Highly regarded Victorian trainer Matt Cumani brings Wetakemanhattan over the border for a crack at the black-type event, while SA’s leading jockey Todd Pannell will team up with the powerful McEvoy stable on Rockarral.

Two horses from last year’s field are returning for another crack at the race: roughies Exalted Lightning – which was ridden to victory by Pannell in the 2018 renewal of the Birthday Cup – and Meli Melo.

Pannell is shooting for his third success in the race after River’s Edge in 2011 and Exalted Lightning.

  1. Hasta La War; 2. Wetakemanhattan; 3. Dr Dependable

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