Gino D’Altorio will travel from Griffith to Leeton on Saturday with the in-form Roman Nero searching for a third straight win in the $12,000 Leeton Cup.
The four-year-old will arrive in Leeton following back-to-back picnic wins at Ardlethan and Tullibigeal and D’Altorio believes his galloper will be well-graded in the 1600m feature race.
“For me it’s close to go to Leeton and it suits,” D’Altorio said.
“I had him nominated for Hillston last week, but because of the two quick runs, I saved him for Leeton and his benchmark is nearly 50, and this is a Benchmark 58 cup and it’s just a good race for him.”
D’Altorio knows what is needed to win a Country Cup but he conceded it would be a tough assignment at Leeton.
I’ve won the Leeton Cup, and cups at Griffith, Parkes and all those places,” D’Altorio said.
“It’s not easy. At Leeton, any horse can win, and they come from everywhere and it’s harder than it used to be.”
Still, the Griffith trainer was hopeful that his Holy Roman Emperor gelding would handle the step up in class.
“That’s what we will find out on Saturday,” D’Altorio laughed.
“I only raced him there at the picnics to get him fit, but it was his class, and he was able to win.
“Now he is going to Leeton, and he is probably looking for more distance and that will be the challenge, but I think he can run a good race and he is going well enough.”
Apprentice Teighan Worsnop will take the ride and the young jockey will know what to expect when jumping aboard Roman Nero.
“I will have Teighan Worsnop riding,” D’Altorio said.
“She rides him most of the time. She placed on him at Wagga and the horse goes good for her.”
There will be added local interest too, with Narrandera trainer Anthony Craig chasing his maiden win.
Craig has King Tat entered in the 1150m Maiden Plate and the 1600m Class One/Maiden Plate.
The five-year-old will appreciate the drop back in class at Leeton following a ninth-place finish at Wagga earlier last month.
Prior to that the Sidestep gelding was knocking on the door of a win, finishing second at Tumut in January and fourth at Albury in February.
It is a big day for the Leeton Jockey Club, and a good crowd is expected to be on course for the six-race non-TAB program with the club hosting fashions on the field and kid’s entertainment among other things happening on the day.