It’s one of the great days on the South Australian racing calendar and the Strathalbyn locals are looking to make it a hometown affair with a strong contingent of local chances.
Locally trained horses always run well at Strathalbyn and Sunday’s field is stacked with horses who love the track. Amazingly, only one of the nine horses who have had a start at Strathalbyn has not won there.
Little Akie, the Brian Mueller trained 2016 Balaklava Cup winner has a remarkable record at his home track with four wins from five starts. While he hasn't recorded a win since that Balaklava Cup victory, his first-up run in a hot Gawler Cup was a solid hit out and will have him in good shape for this.
Mueller's other runner Oamaru Owl recorded a strong win a Benchmark 80 race on Gawler Cup Day. While he hasn’t won second-up in his career, he’s another who loves his home track and the horse he beat that day in Arrow Lane has since gone on to win which shows there was some form horses in that race.
There will be a big watch on David Jolly’s Tsaritsyn who returns to the track for the first time in 18 months. The talented eight-year-old has only had eight career starts in his injury plagued career but has registered four wins and one placing from those eight starts. He’s undefeated in two starts at the track and is two from four first-up. In a big plus for the returning horse, Jamie Kah takes ride, who’s been on the horse for each of its four wins.
Another interesting runner is Dion Koch’s Antipas, who’s first-up since May. He was 7.75 lengths off Runaway in the Listed VRC St Ledger last preparation. Runaway has since gone on to win the Group 3 Geelong Cup and lead the field for the majority of this year’s Melbourne Cup. While the 1350m will probably be a bit short for him, he was mixing it with some quality horses last prep and could surprise at odds.
The leading chances from the ‘out of towners’ will be Gordon Richards’ Enki and Gary Searle’s Snowbrook. The Strathalbyn circuit holds no fears for Enki, who’s two from two there but it’s his recent form that will be the concern for Richards. Enki’s only beaten home five horses in his three starts this preparation and will need to recapture his form from earlier on this year to have a chance on Sunday.
The Gawler trained, Snowbrook comes out of the same race as Oamaru Owl where he ran on strongly from the tail of the field to only go down by two lengths. He meets Oamaru Owl 4.5kg better off at the weights this time around and retains senior jockey Dom Tourneur. Off that run and with the weights, looms as a big danger to rain on the local’s parade!