Tony McEvoy could have a four pronged attack heading into Wednesday’s Listed Heiniger Balaklava Cup which looks to be one of the deepest and most open editions of the race in recent history.
McEvoy last claimed the Cup in 2014 with Longshoreman but his stable has been unstoppable at Balaklava with a remarkable thirteen straight wins at the track across five meetings in a season that saw him collect 22 wins at a 50% strike rate at the track.
Last year’s runner-up Brown Ben returns to Balaklava in an attempt to go one better than last year but comes into the race with some scratchy form and has not found a placing since last year’s Murray Bridge Cup. Victorian hoop Corey Parish is set to take the ride on the six-year-old who has the class, he just needs to find the form.
Form is something that his stablemate Miss Siska has no problems with at the moment, winning four of her last six. The mare beat Naantali a month ago at Caulfield in BM84 grade and should get a lovely run from barrier eight for McEvoy’s Victorian rider Luke Currie.
Gun jockey, Jamie Kah, will ride the talented five-year-old Silvera who had won two on the trot before finishing ninth in the Listed Penny Edition Stakes two weeks ago. The gelding has a good record over the mile with two wins and two placings from six starts and with Kah on board who knows Balaklava like the back of her hand, he will be right in the finish on Wednesday.
McEvoy’s other runner Tan Tat Trusting needs one more scratching to gain a start after Peter Gelagotis scratched topweight Call Me Handsome from the race on Monday which has given Will Clarken’s Diapason a start. Jason Holder will ride the lightly raced McEvoy runner and the two have enjoyed success over the years together, combining to win the Cup in 2014.
With Diapason gaining a start, Will Clarken will have two runners in the race with his main chance Tatoosh drawing nicely in barrier seven with Emily Finnegan on board. Tatoosh has been a model of consistency for the Clarken stable since coming over from Sydney with five wins and two placings from nine starts. Tatoosh has a good record over the mile and has won twice second up so expect him to be firing late.
Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas’ Group 3 Hobart Cup winning mare Pretty Punk will get out to a more favourable distance on Wednesday after contesting two Stakes races over 1200m and 1400m in her two runs back from a break. The mile still might be a bit short for the mare but the way she ran home in the Listed Penny Edition last start shows she is a huge threat over the distance and definitely has the class to claim the Cup.
Also coming out of the Penny Edition is Ryan Balfour’s Embecee Lil. The trainer of last year’s winner, Balf’s Choice will be hoping his mare can produce a win at her first try at the mile and her first attempt at a run over 1400m. Grant Young’s Exalted Adam and Stuart Gower’s Silent Warrior also contested the Penny Edition and while Young’s horse has had his success over shorter distances and Gower’s has had more success over further, you just can’t write off one of these horses bobbing up at the finish and could be one for the exotics.
Last start winner Modulate leads a contingent of five horses who finished in the first six in their last start at Morphettville in a 1600m BM86 last month. Modulate has been on fire winning his last three on the trot for trainer Richard Jolly and he will be looking for his first win in the Cup as a trainer, after winning the race as a jockey back in 1992 on Weetulta.
Chapel City, Victory Downs, 2015 winner By The Grace and Temps Voleur all come out of the race Modulate won and Chapel City was probably the best of that four in the finish but the other three are all quality experienced campaigners who with the right run in the race could challenge for the Cup.
And after saying all that you can’t right off the visitor from the Mick Price yard Special Diva. Price rarely brings a horse to South Australia that isn’t a big chance and after his win in the last at Morphettville on Saturday, Special Diva looks a nice chance with two time Balaklava Cup winner Dom Tourneur on board.
With chances a plenty and a stack of quality all throughout the race, we are set for one of the great Balaklava Cups on Wednesday.