Milamoo in fine fettle for Gundagai Cup assignment

Damon Budler will partner the Rob Potter-trained Milamoo in Sunday’s Gundagai Cup. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Rob Potter will travel to Gundagai on Sunday, confident that in-form mare Milamoo (Damon Budler, $8.50) can win the $36,000 XXXX Gold Gundagai Cup. 

The Canberra trainer has only had the eight-year-old for ten starts after picking her up from Mick Miladinovic. 

However, she has been racing in rare form, finishing second in the Cowra Cup in January before running an excellent fourth in the Rod Parsons Memorial Cup at Wagga in February.

Since then, she has won twice in her last three starts, with a victory at Canberra in the 1600m Benchmark 75 Handicap on March 13, followed by a good third at Hawkesbury in the 1800m Benchmark 68 Handicap on March 23.

Last start, she landed another excellent win at the Sapphire Coast in the 1608m Benchmark 74 Handicap on March 31. 

“She’s in career-best form, and her whole prep has been really good,” Potter said. 

“She’s had a few runs there where she had no luck at all, but overall, she is in the zone, and it’s nice to be heading to a cup race with an in-form mare.”

Connections have drawn gate 10, and it will likely be a rain-affected track at Gundagai, but Potter said the Zariz mare would go back and finish strong over the nine furlongs.

“She likes to jump out, get grabbed hold of, settle out back, and then have one crack at them,” Potter said.

“The secret is to ride her cold, and she has a beautiful turn of foot. 

“The 1800m is not an issue, and she will not mind it soft, and that race at Hawkesbury, she was a bit stiff not to win, and she probably hit the line better than the first two horses, and the second horse has since won, and the winner started favourite at Brisbane before being ridden upside down, so her form should stand up.”

Milamoo is a seven-time winner from 49 starts, but she is racing better than ever, and Potter said the Gundagai Cup ‘popped up’ at the perfect time. 

“We don’t do a lot with her; just slow work, swim her and then do a little bit of pace work, and she looks magnificent,” Potter said. 

“Gundagai seems to be a nice swooper’s track, and I think she is a big chance on her recent form.”

It could be a big few days for Potter, who has Desponia (Damon Budler) and I’m Not Leaving (Damon Budler) racing at Canberra today (Friday), while Madison Point (Ricky Blewitt) will be one of the favourites to win Saturday’s $10,000 Grenfell Picnic Cup. 

Madison Point has given connections much joy on the picnic circuit.

He is racing well after winning the Yass Picnic Cup in February before finishing second to the Mont Waters-trained Namarari in the Funny Hill Picnic Cup at Crookwell in March. 

“I think Madison Point will go close, and he probably should have won at Crookwell,” Potter said. 

“Ricky, on his own admission, let the horse get away from him at Crookwell, and we underestimated it.

“It’s a good race at Grenfell, but I think the big thing is, Madison Point can carry the weight (69.5kg), and he is fresh; we gave him a jump out on Wednesday to take the edge off him a bit, and we have been aiming for this race, and we will see how he goes.” 

It will be a bumper day off and on the track at Grenfell, with good racing complemented by plenty of off-track entertainment and fashions on the field. 

For more on the Grenfell meeting, click here. For Grenfell’s fields, click here

Back at Gundagai, the Gundagai Cup headlines an entertaining eight-race program.

For more on the meeting, click here. For fields, click here

Gundagai Cup flashbacks

Weeding wins in 2022

Craig Weeding added the Gundagai Cup to his mantlepiece following Prince of Helena’s emphatic victory in the $34,000 feature. 

Ridden by Jake Duffy, the Wangaratta galloper travelled comfortably in the 1700m event before exploding to the front on the Gundagai straight, winning by four lengths from the Barbara Joseph and Matt and Paul Jones-trained Roman (Quayde Krogh) in second, while early leader Momack (Shaun Guymer) for Blake Ryan hung on gamely for third. 

Craig said after the race, “Country Cups are always brilliant to get. They are held in high esteem in the community, and it is another one on the mantlepiece.”

Gundagai looks forward to welcoming Craig back on April 16 as he will bring Tullys Gold for a tilt at the time-honoured race.

Vella celebrates a win in 2018

In 2018, regular visitor Gratz Vella took home the Gundagai Cup, with American Time and Shaun Guymer doing the Canberra trainer’s job. 

Vella might not have a runner in the 2023 Gundagai Cup, but he will be here on Sunday with up to four runners on the eight-race program.

Al Ahmar goes back-to-back in 2013/2014

The Paul Jones-trained Al Ahmar was a Gundagai specialist, winning back-to-back Gundagai Cups in 2013 and 2014. 

Ten years ago, Jones presented the impressive Southern Districts and South East performer Al Ahmar to Gundagai for the 2013 Gundagai Cup. 

With Carl Spry in the saddle, the Al Maher gelding never looked like losing, paying $3.60 for the win when defeating the Dan McCarthy-trained Dance Man (Andrew Bloomfield) by 1.5 lengths, while three lengths back in third was the Brett Cavanough-trained and race favourite Ceccanti (Mathew Cahill). 

In 2014, Richard Bensley was in the saddle, and starting a $7.50 chance, he defended his title when holding off the Tim Donnelly-trained Jo Jo Girl (Padraig Beggy) by two lengths, while four lengths back in third was the Alex Aquilina-trained Olly I Am (Kristen Smart). 

The Jones racing team continue to be big supporters of Gundagai, and it will be no different on Sunday when the Canberra stable bring across a big team of six runners for our Gundagai Cup meeting on Sunday.