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Graphic to emulate Trentham legends with Cup repeat

Matamata stayer Graphic will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Trentham legends when he lines up for a defence of his title in tomorrow’s Gr. 2 Platinum Homes Wellington Cup.

No horse has won the Wellington Cup two years in a row since the great Castletown, who won the race in 1991 and 1992 and then added a third Cup in 1994. Hardy southerner Ed also won the race twice but those victories came in 1995 and 1997, split by Yes Indeed’s win in 1996. The only other horses to win back-to-back Cups in the race’s 141-year history are Good Lord (1977-78), Great Sensation (1961-63) and Cynisca (1890-92).

The Mike Moroney and Chad Ormsby-trained Graphic was having just his eighth start when he triumphed in last year’s time-honoured showpiece, prevailing by a length after a gruelling battle down the home straight with game front-runner Skysoblue.

The Ballymore Stables team are happy with the six-year-old Volksraad gelding’s preparation for his title defence in 2015, having run a tremendous fourth in the Gr. 1 Zabeel Classic at weight-for-age on Boxing Day before running a solid second at Ellerslie two weeks ago to subsequent Trentham Stakes placegetter Delveen.

“His Ellerslie run was exactly what we wanted to see from him,” Ballymore’s racing manager Nick Fairweather told The Informant. “He found the line nicely under his 59 kilograms. It was a good run and he pulled up well and came through it very nicely.”

Graphic carried 52 kilograms to his Wellington Cup win last year, and thanks to the presence of the 101-rated Alpine Heights in tomorrow’s field he will not face a significant increase in weight this time around.

“He’s been carrying 59 kilograms for his last few starts and he won’t know himself with only 54 kilograms in the Cup,” Fairweather said. “I think we were pleasantly surprised when he heard the weight he was going to carry. A weight advantage like that is always a plus when you line up in a major handicap like the Wellington Cup.”

Graphic has been ridden by Craig Grylls for the majority of his career, including last year’s Wellington Cup victory. With Grylls serving a lengthy suspension following the two-horse fall in the Royal Stakes on New Year’s Day, Opie Bosson was chosen as his replacement and rode Graphic in his last-start Ellerslie run. But Bosson will be unable to make the 54-kilogram weight, so the mount will instead be taken by Rory Hutchings.

Not only will Graphic be attempting to defend his Wellington Cup title tomorrow, but he will also be auditioning for a place in the prestigious and lucrative Championships meeting in Sydney in April.

“It all depends on how he runs on Saturday,” Fairweather said. “If he runs a strong race and wins or finishes in the first three, we would look very closely at taking him to Sydney. We still hold a nomination for the Auckland Cup as well. His future will be decided by how he runs in this race.”

- The Informant
[23 Jan 15]

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