Crafty Cruiser

Field set for second edition of the Haymes Paint Jericho Cup

The 2019 renewal of the $304,000 Haymes Paint Jericho Cup has attracted a diverse field of stayers, with the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Ablaze – one of six New-Zealand bred gallopers in the field – set to carry the topweight of 70kg in the unique 4600m contest at Warrnambool this Sunday.

Ablaze, a dual purpose eight-year-old who earned his place in the Jericho Cup courtesy of victory in a ballot-exempt 3340m race at Gawler last month, will be ridden by in-form Irishman John Allen, who is aiming for successive feature race wins after taking out last Saturday’s Listed Sportsbet Ballarat Cup (2000m) on Kiwia.

The second edition of the race at Warrnambool will again commemorate the original Jericho Cup, a three-mile contest which was held in the desert sands of Jericho in 1918 and was won by ‘Bill the Bastard’, arguably Australia’s greatest war horse.

Ablaze’s opponents include the Lindsay Park-trained Da Deputy, set to be ridden by Clayton Douglas who will be bidding for back-to-back Jericho Cups having taken out last year’s race on High Mode. 

Bargain buy Aigne and his fellow Kiwi Where Are You will become the first New Zealand-trained horses to compete in the Jericho Cup on Sunday. A $7,000 purchase by his shrewd trainer Neil O’Dowd, Aigne will take home $150,000 in prizemoney if he can carry 69kg to victory under Kiwi jumps jockey Michael Roustoby, who will be riding in Australia for the first time. 

Aigne was joined on the plane across the Tasman Sea by Where Are You, whose trainer Shaune Ritchie is the son of Frank Ritchie, famous for his exploits in the 1980s with multiple Group 1 winner Bonecrusher.

Aigne and Where Are You have been staying at the Warrnambool stables of trainer Matthew Williams, whose seven-year-old Plymouth Road – owned by the OTI Racing syndicate – will make the short journey across the road to compete in the Jericho Cup.

Bryce Stanaway’s evergreen 12-year-old Crafty Cruiser will attempt to go one better this year, having finished runner-up behind High Mode 12 months ago; whilst the Charlotte Littlefield-trained mare Hello My Friend will seek to enhance an impressive record at Warrnambool, having won her last three starts there – including the 2018 Jericho Cup Repechage.         

The 14-runner field is supplemented by four emergencies: Bemboka Queen (trained by Gavin Bedggood), Wolfe Tone (Francis Finnegan), Golden Gee (Greg Hayes) and Cuban Fighter (Darren Kolpin).  

Should any of the four emergencies gain a start in the race they will automatically be withdrawn from the Jericho Cup Repechage (4065m), set to feature any horses which have accepted for the Jericho Cup but do not gain a start.  

Acceptances for the Jericho Cup Repechage, and all other races at the meeting, will close at 9.15am this Thursday (28 November). As with last year, the winner of the Repechage will gain an automatic start in the 2020 edition of the Jericho Cup.

The Jericho Cup, which is Australia’s longest flat race, was the brainchild of philanthropist and racing enthusiast Bill Gibbins, who will be presented with lifetime membership of Warrnambool Racing Club this Sunday.