Ponsonby’s ‘enigma’ set to shine in Orange Cup

The James Ponsonby-trained Will To Excel will contest Friday’s Orange Gold Cup. photo: Racing Photography.

The $75,000 Southern Cross Austereo Orange Gold Cup will be run and won on Friday and James Ponsonby believes Will To Excel is every chance of featuring in the 2100m feature race. 

“It’s a tricky race and it depends how much rain comes today and tomorrow,” Ponsonby said. 

“He has won on a soft seven at that track, but he is a bit of an enigma this horse, but he is capable.”

The Orange Cup field has held up nicely, with a strong contingent of country gallopers looking to fend off the challenges of city trainers and their charges. 

“The race tomorrow is nothing short of classy, and there’s last year’s winner (Brown Thomas) and Bjorn Baker’s horses are tough to beat,” Ponsonby said.

Gayna’s (Williams) horse (From the Bush) is the favourite, and he is a good horse, and it doesn’t matter what distance he races at, he is always hard to beat.”

Ponsonby’s High Chaparral gelding, which returned from a 15-week spell when running seventh over the 1870m journey at Newcastle late last month, has won four times in 18 starts, and the six-year-old gets into the Orange Cup nicely, drawing gate six and attracting the services of Shaun Guymer when only carrying 55.5kg.  

“From the soft draw, and with a good run, he is a chance,” Ponsonby said. 

“If he can be midfield or a touch better, he is good enough to win this race. 

“His last race at Newcastle leaves me with a good feeling that he can run a good race.” 

Will To Excel has only started five times for connections, winning at Orange and Wagga late last year, and Ponsonby explained that the cheap purchase was certainly capable of running big races, but mostly on his own terms. 

“When we picked him up, he was only $8000 on the Inglis Online Catalogue,” Ponsonby said. 

“When Mack Griffith had him, some runs were good and you could see he had some ability, then some of his runs were rubbish and he is just that kind of horse.”

“When we got him, he was struggling a bit there for a while and last preparation we went to Orange with our fingers and toes crossed that he might run a good race at Orange, but he ran away and won like a good horse and then he backed that up with a really solid win at Wagga.

“He got a little ahead of himself quite quickly, but he goes well enough when things are on his own terms.”

Will To Excel can gallop though, and only two starts ago he finished a solid fifth in the $300,000 Jericho Cup at Warrnambool when beaten by the very good stayer, Wil John.

“When we took him to the Jericho Cup, he was a month between races, and they canned the Canberra race and he just got a bit out of his ground, but he was probably entitled to finish third and it was another good effort,” Ponsonby said.

As far as winning the Orange Cup, Ponsonby just hoped there was good pace in the race and that the real Will To Excel turned up to race.

“I think he has enough talent to do the job and I hope he puts his best foot forward,” Ponsonby said. 

“The more confident he is, and the more pace that is on, the more chance he is. If he is left to his own devices, he has a nice turn of foot and can find the line strongly.”

It will be another massive day for Racing Orange, and to find out more about attending the meeting, readers can click here, and for full fields, readers can click here