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Diverse bunch to contest City of Port Augusta Cup

A smallish but interesting bunch of middle-distance runners will contest Sunday’s City of Port Augusta Cup (2300m).

The absence of dirt-track star Fulton Street has opened up the $22,500 race to other runners and ensured a healthier betting contest.

Will Clarken’s Handsome Return is hitting dirt for the first time, but needs only to handle the surface to be the horse to beat. Handsome Return has ran some excellent races in Adelaide metropolitan company, including finishing second to France’s Boy over 1550m at Morphettville Parks last Saturday.

Jockey Margaret Collett’s 2kg claim brings the top weight into the race with a winnable 58kg impost.

John Hickmott’s Turf Man also has strong credentials, but is likely to run at Murray Bridge tomorrow, rather than Port Augusta on Sunday.

Connermara Rose was beaten a long way by Darwin Cup-bound Fulton Street last start, but was brave in defeat, taking on the $1.18 favourite for much of the 1867m trip and battling on well over the final 400m. If allowed her own way in front, the Scott Whittle-trained mare could be hard to run down. Visao came from last to finish third in that same race, and could benefit by the extra trip on Sunday.

The form of Grant Young’s Exalted Ambition also reads well for this race, despite his last start seventh in a stop-start 2250m race at Morphettville Parks a fortnight ago. Exalted Ambition contested the SA Derby in May, and although well beaten showed his staying promise with strong runs in his subsequent three starts, including a third in a $45,000 race at Murray Bridge last month, when starting as a $2.90 favourite.

An interesting runner is Orleans, trained at Port Augusta by Bryan Holtham. Orleans contested the 1600m race at Balaklava on Wednesday that was taken out in astonishing style by Kalamon, a 10-length winner. Orleans ran well, relevant to the beaten brigade, and Holtham said provided the horse pleases him he is likely to back up on Sunday.

Jockey Krystal Bishop (Visao) is aiming for successive City of Port Augusta Cups, after winning on Dellacqua last year, while Alice Lindsay (Connermara Rose) won the race in 2018 on Adolphin.

Selections: 1. Handsome Return; 2. Exalted Ambition; 3. Connermara Rose; 4. Orleans.

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