Friday marks the first Listed Murray Bridge Gold Cup at the new Gifford Hill track and our state’s leading trainers will be looking to continue their dominance with three runners in the Cup field.
No other trainer in the state is close to the record that Tony & Calvin McEvoy possess at Murray Bridge in 2019 with the duo training 15 winners at a 50% winning strike rate and an astonishing 86.7% place rate.
Their nearest rival is Will Clarken on five winners and a number of other trainers have two each. With seven runners representing the McEvoy yard on Friday you can only assume that number will continue to grow.
A big part of the McEvoy yard’s success has been the form of stable jockey Barend Vorster. Vorster himself has an outstanding record at the new Murray Bridge track riding 11 winners at a 44% winning strike rate and an 84% place rate.
He sits six wins clear of his closest rivals Todd Pannell and Raquel Clark, who have ridden five winners at the new track.
Vorster will partner Shop Til I Drop for Tony & Calvin on Friday and the mare has four wins in a row to her name heading into the biggest race of her short career. While she drops back from 2000m to the mile she has to go in as the stable’s number one chance after winning over the mile earlier in her preparation.
The stable will also saddle up Balaklava Cup winner Brown Ben with Cory Parish aiming to make it two Provincial SA Cups aboard the gelding in 2019. Their other runner will be Nistaan who hasn't really put a foot wrong this preparation with two wins and two placings from four starts. Jason Holder will take the ride on the five-year-old.
The biggest threats to the McEvoy trio look to be Hussybay and Dexter You Devil (who is currently sitting as the race favourite). Hussybay is a last start winner and finished fifth in last year’s Cup. The locally trained gelding from the Mick Huxtable yard won the Listed City of Adelaide Handicap earlier this year and will likely be trained to the minute for a win in his hometown Cup. Dexter You Devil is in some amazing form with three wins in his last four starts and his only miss was when he finished fourth in the Balaklava Cup. He’s three from four over the mile and a warm favourite for the race.
The Vorster-McEvoy partnership will combine three other times on Cup Day with Dubai House (Race 2) Shalfah (Race 4) and Hills (Race 9). Dubai House looks the best of the chances there for the stable and will go head to head against his stablemate Moments Deel which will be ridden by Jason Holder.
Interestingly Vorster will have his second only start on a non-McEvoy horse when he partners Sue Murphy's Barood in the Flying Handicap. The first ride he had away from the partnership was on the weekend when he rode Paul Preusker's Marcel From Madrid in the Listed Durbridge Stakes at Morphettville.