Penola’s famous Coonawarra Vignerons Cup kicks off a big year of country racing in our state and with a load of local chances in the feature, the red wine could be free flowing by the end of the day!
The strongest form race for Thursday’s feature looks to be the Nhill Cup, which was held on Boxing Day, some two hours’ drive from Penola. Three runners come out of that race and look to be some of the better chances in the Vignerons Cup.
Rod Nicholson’s Dyagilev ran third in the Nhill Cup but returns to a track he absolutely loves and has recorded four of his eight career wins here. He was no match for the winner Splash Some Cash at Nhill but comes into Thursday’s race rock hard fit and 2.5kg lighter. He ran fourth in this race last year with Jeff Maund aboard and looks primed to run another big race on his favourite track.
One of the two horses that beat Dyagilev home in the Nhill Cup was Richard Wilson’s Mista Holyfield. He ran past Dyagilev down the straight and looks primed for another crack at the 1700m. He also has a fantastic record at Penola with two wins and six placings from nine starts and will have the inform Lachie Niendorf aboard. The apprentice has been in scintillating form lately with eight winners in December and three already in 2020. The 2kg claim for Neindorf will be a big positive for his chances in this race.
The third runner out of the race was the nine-year-old Sandhill Star. He’ll be having his third run back on Thursday after more than two years on the sidelines. The 2016 Strathalbyn Cup winner would be more than capable of winning this in his prime but there will be question marks about his chances after two plain runs back. If he can recapture some of his previous form, he could be one that runs into the placings at nice odds.
You can never write off one of the two Sue’s in a South East Cup and both Sue Jaensch and Sue Murphy’s runners will have their chance on Thursday. Jaensch has been runner-up in the last two editions of the Coonawarra Vignerons Cup and will saddle up Disco Rebel. The mare’s last win came back in August but since then hasn’t been able to quite crack the placings in decent company of late. With the experienced Paul Gatt to ride, the mare is every chance to give Jaensch that much deserved win.
Fellow Naracoorte based trainer Sue Murphy has enjoyed a fantastic season and currently sits in the Top 10 trainers in the State with 14 wins. She’ll saddle up her warhorse Athos who is second up from and spell where he has won twice from five starts. Teagan Voorham has also had a great season in the saddle and the apprentice rode him last start where he battled on over 1400m. The extra 300m will suit him nicely and he should be primed for a good second up run.
- Mista Holyfield 2. Dyagilev 3. Disco Rebel 4. Athos