Not since Zipping and Sandown, has a horse been so synonymous with a racetrack than Excites Zelady and Murray Bridge. The Chris Bieg trained miler has had a stranglehold over this race for the last four years where in that time he’s claimed the Listed feature on three occasions.
The Cup means a lot to Bieg and his team and while there have been many highs over that time, there have also been some lows.
“The first of the three victories came in 2014 which was the day of the shocking fall that claimed the life of our close friend and exciting upcoming apprentice Caitlin Forrest and seriously injured Libby Hopwood. It certainly was a day of highs and lows.”
“After what happened in 2014 I really wanted to win the following year’s Cup and in 2015 that’s exactly what we did. What made 2015 special was that one of Caitlin’s closest friends Jake Toeroek rode him to victory. It was a very emotional day.”
Toeroek will ride Excites Zelady on Friday and carry the same weight (54kg) as he did last year when Justin Potter produced a fantastic ride to hold off Magic Consul to claim his third Cup.
Since that victory it’s been a tough twelve months for Excites Zelady who’s failed to greet the judges first since the Cup win. While a year is a long time between drinks, his last start third showed he’s back on the right track but there is something about the horse that just clicks when he arrives at Murray Bridge.
“He’s been a fantastic horse to have around the stable and for him to win the last Murray Bridge Cup at the current track would mean so much, to so many people, for so many different reasons.”
While many punters will be having a sneaky each-way bet on the Cup King Excites Zelady, it’s Bieg’s other runner and recent stable addition, Temps Voleur who looks like he could be the one to fly the flag for the stable this year.
“He’s a horse I’ve have had a lot to do with before coming to my stable. I first looked after him for Robbie Laing way back in September 2015. Robbie kept sending him back around the same time in 2016 and 2017 and then I was lucky that this year he was transferred to my stable.”
“It came as no surprise to me that he would continue to win races over here but to win the Balaklava Cup at Listed level was a fantastic performance by the horse.”
It’s that Listed Balaklava Cup win which will have Temps Voleur as one of the favourites for Friday’s feature and Georgina Cartwright returns to SA to partner the seven-year-old after her magnificent front-running ride on the gelding in the Balaklava Cup.
“It’s definitely no secret that Temps (Voleur) is in better form heading into the race but we can’t write off the old boy Excites Zelady. He loves the track and if he gets the right run, I’m sure he can feature right in the finish again.”
The Murray Bridge Cup field always has plenty of quality and this year is no exception with strong chances throughout the field.
The locally trained Hussybay is undefeated in two starts at the track and has the services of Victorian hoop Harry Coffey. Richard and Chantelle Jolly’s Modulate loves the mile and has won four of its last five starts with the Balakava Cup its only miss. The Tony McEvoy trained pair of Silvera and Vinland are quality horses on the rise with Silvera finishing half a length, fourth behind Temps Voleur in the Balaklava Cup while Vinland has taken on Australia’s mighty mare Winx over the mile in the Group 1 Chipping Norton.
Win or lose on Friday Bieg will be a happy man leaving the Murray Bridge track for the final time before next year’s Cup moves to Gifford Hill in 2019.
“The Murray Bridge Cup has been a great race to me and whatever the result is on Friday I’m sure both of my horses will do me and the connections proud.”