The Squatters Cup is the final tune up for many Port Augusta Cup aspirants and Sunday’s field features many locally trained runners and dirt track specialists.
David Jolly’s Fulton Street is likely to start favourite on Sunday after his strong win carrying the grandstand last start at Port Augusta. Jolly has a ridiculous strike rate when bringing horses to Port Augusta, going at a 43% winning rate. Young apprentice Jerry Chau rode him a treat last time and gets in 2.5kg lighter off his last run which is a massive boost for his chances.
Kylie McKerlie has been the dominant trainer at Port Augusta this season training five winners at the track and her runner Dance of Heroes looks a strong chance in the Squatters Cup on Sunday. The eight-year-old won the Hawker Cup in May where he defeated Fulton Street. He was ridden that day by Eran Boyd who gets back aboard the gelding on the weekend as the two look to claim another feature together.
Other locally trained chances in the Cup come from Darren Bonetti’s Sizzling Bullet who was runner-up to Fulton Street last start, and two starts back contested a very strong mile race over the Adelaide Festival of Racing. While he has talent, he has found it hard to win lately, with his last victory coming back in February of 2017 when he was under the care of Chris Waller in Sydney. Bob Hannigan’s Gold Maestro is also a nice lightweight chance in the race. He was a last start winner for the local trainer and has won two from six at his home track.
2013 Port Augusta Cup winner Pretty Blonde lines up in her 88th career start for Dan Clarken & Oopy MacGilivray. The 10 year-old mare has been a genuine warhorse over her long career travelling all around Australia. While she always give a brave effort, she hasn’t won since May 2017 when she claimed the Alice Springs Cup. Experienced hoop Justin Potter will ride the mare on Sunday in an attempt to emulate the success of that Cup victory six years ago.
Sairyn Fawke and John Hickmott have been one of the state’s most in-form combinations this season and they come to town with Turf Man. He’s won his only start at the track and Fawke won the 2017 edition of this race aboard It’s Fred. Hickmott’s second runner, Troopers Ploy has one win and three placings from four starts at the track. He’s been around the marks of horses like Fulton Street and Dance of Heroes, which gives him a good chance.
The outcome of this race should shape the field of the Port Augusta Cup in a fortnight’s time and a good win or run in this race will go a long way to putting some of these runners in the box seat to claim the biggest race in the Mid North next month.