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Top End galloper’s Balaklava Cup barrier challenge

The extreme outside barrier draw wasn’t enough to stop former Top End galloper Savatoxl opening favourite for Wednesday $100,000 TQCSI Balaklava Cup (1600m).

A stunning trial at Gawler at his first public appearance for the Tony and Calvin McEvoy yard, when he easily ran past Group 3-winning stablemate Sisstar, had many spruiking the horse’s chances of recording his first win on grass in the time-honoured feature as the stable chases a second successive Balaklava feature.

But it didn’t last for long, Savatoxl opened at $6 with but was quickly eased to $7.50 favourite from barrier 20, with money coming for Master Chum (gate eight) who was $13 into $7.50 second favourite in the first few hours of betting.

Jason Holder will ride Savatoxl, with McEvoy stable jockey Barend Vorster opting to ride Winning Partner, who returns from some luckless racing in Melbourne and shares the second line of betting with Master Chum and Richard and Chantelle Jolly’s Rainmoth and Savatoxl.

The McEvoys have Caitlin Jones booked to ride Fox Hall while Sairyn Fawke has landed the ride on East Indiaman. The stable is yet to find a rider for Blow Torch.

Rainmoth drew perfectly in barrier four and could jump from the inside with three of the four race emergencies all drawing inside her.

Todd Pannell was granted permission by TRSA stewards to ride last-start winner Handsome Return a kilogram overweight at 55kg with the horse chasing his third country cup win in succession.

Handsome Return drifted early from $11 out to $14 while stablemate Final Hearing is a $14 chance.

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