‘Honest horse’ primed for Armidale Cup

The Brett Dodson-trained Full Press is primed for a big effort in Sunday’s $60,000 Amidale Cup. Image – Bradley Photos.

Brett Dodson will travel into the state’s North West tomorrow, confident that the ever-consistent Country Cup campaigner, Full Press, is primed for a big run in the $60,000 Armidale Cup (1900m). 

The six-year-old is a seven-time winner, and three starts back, he won the $75,000 Lismore Cup (2110m), which qualified the Press Statement gelding for the $3 million Big Dance

A start later, he was a ‘victim of circumstances’ in the Port Macquarie Cup at Taree, where he finished an unlucky seventh, beaten less than four lengths. 

On Melbourne Cup day, the Coffs Harbour galloper ran into the most challenging field of his career when taking on the $3 million Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick, but he was game to the line, beaten six lengths by some very good hoses when running around as a 200/1 shot.

“He is such an honest horse, and he always puts in 110%,” Dodson proudly said.

“Even when he went to the Big Dance, I thought it was a super run and one of his best-ever efforts. 

“He certainly didn’t disgrace himself, and I thought he ran very well.

“Plus, it was always going to be hard coming back to a mile from racing over 2100m at Lismore and 2000m at Taree, but he tried hard, hit the line well, and the run was full of merit.”

Full Press will step back up in distance, and Dodson believes he will be fit enough to take on a hard-and-fast 1900m Armidale Cup. 

“He is the sort of horse that stays on a level par and keeps his fitness,” he said. 

“He doesn’t get a lot of galloping, and he had one hit out this week, which was on Monday, and he was not under any pressure at all but worked tremendously and breezed up on them and was strong through to the line.”

Armidale can be a tricky circuit, and over the 1900m journey, gallopers run the length of the straight and cross the winning post before completing another full lap. 

It’s an undulating racecourse, and it can be a chaotic charge into the first turn, meaning there is generally a bit of speed on, and that is what Dodson is hoping for. 

“He loves the track, and he’s won two from three there, and they were both over the 1400m,” Dodson said. 

“He hasn’t missed a place in three, so it is going to suit him, which is funny because early on, we didn’t think the tight, up, and down tracks would suit him, but he likes a bit of speed on, and that’s what you usually get at Armidale.

“There is a bit of speed in this race, and he can get a long way back, but over 1900m, he will race handier, and hopefully, he’ll settle and get the run of the race behind them.” 

With Adin Thompson on board and from gate six, Full Press is drawn to get the run of the race, with the likes of Nature Boy and Claptone expected to take up the running.

Still, some excellent types go around in a race that has turned out to be a genuine Country Cup.

The Stephen Lee-trained Beckford finished second in 2022 and will look to go one better, while the Tony Newing-trained Savvy Lad brings some decent NSW and Queensland form to the table but will be asked to carry 61kg. 

On a good card at Armidale, the $35,000 Newmarket (1100m) will see a small but good field contest the sprint event, while the $50,000 Showcase Maiden Plate (1100m) will be a good betting affair. 

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