SA dirt-track star Fulton Street – winner of his past two dirt-track starts by a combined 13 lengths – has bypassed today’s City of Port Augusta Cup (2300m) for a crack at the rich Darwin Cup.
Fulton Street has built an imposing record on dirt surfaces, including a six-length romp in a benchmark 80 event over 1867m at his most recent start, on June 21.
The ease of Fulton Street’s win suggested the City of Port Augusta Cup was at the five-year-old gelding’s mercy, however trainer David Jolly said a distance doubt, plus the lure of the Northern Territory’s biggest race, convinced him to sidestep the race.
“We decided to reserve him – I just think the distance is a bit of a stretch for him, even though the class factor might overrule that,” Jolly said.
“The Darwin Cup is on the radar, but he has to do everything right between now and then.
“The Darwin Cup is 2000m so I’d rather be running over the same trip, or 1800m, then going up there to Port Augusta (over 2300m).
“I know it isn’t an easy race to win – there’ll be a lot more pressure than a restricted race at Port Augusta, but because the horse has a good affinity for the dirt I’m happy to have a try.”
Fulton Street could accompany Michael Hickmott’s Lieder to Darwin, with the latter having his fourth crack at the race, after finishing fourth, second and third over the past three years.
Fulton Street won Broken Hill’s Outback Cup in March, setting a new track record in the process. Fulton Street finished a narrow second at Morphettville in May, but Jolly said the horse grows an extra leg on the dirt.
“The reason we started going up to Port Augusta last year is because he’s very dynamic on the ground and his wheels spin a bit on the wet,” Jolly said.
“We switched him over and he’s relished it and his racing style lends itself to that racing as well.
“The only time he’s failed on the dirt is when we went to Birdsville, but the horse wasn’t 100 per cent right.”
Fulton Street was a $375,000 yearling, originally trained in Victoria by John Sadler. Jolly’s judgment about what it takes to win Port Augusta’s biggest race should be respected, having tasted success with Dellacqua last year.
“Dellacqua was a strong horse at 2000m plus,” he said.
“I think Fulton Street’s forte is more a mile to 2000m. He’s on pace and he sort of breaks their hearts, but I’m a bit reluctant to stretch that out, knowing it might wound him a bit if we want to make the trip up north.”
The 2020 Darwin Cup will be held on Monday, August 3.