BENDIGO trainer Danny Curran is chasing a dream result for one of his owners in Saturday’s $25,000 Phil Palma Ford Marong Cup at Bendigo racecourse.
Manhattan Menage is part-owned by Len Rodda, a long-time supporter, committeeman and life member of the Marong Racing Club.
It’s been a long-held ambition of Rodda’s to win the Cup.
In Manhattan Menage, Curran has the galloper capable of fulfilling that dream.
The Group 2-winning trainer has already ticked off one hometown Cup win for owners, when the six-year-old gelding raced to victory in November’s St Arnaud Cup for the Sporle family.
“That was the first of a couple of target races for us,” Curran said.
“Len’s been desperate to have a runner in the Marong Cup, so we are delivering it for him.
“That was a challenge he set me a year and a half ago but the horse didn’t come up last year – he wasn’t ready.”
Manhattan Menage, a winner of three of 36 career starts, opened at $22.60 in betting.
The favourite is Lips Areios ($2.50), one of two runners in the nine-horse field for leading trainer Darren Weir. The other is Hale Soriano ($4.50).
Curran was hoping lightning could strike twice, with Manhattan Menage accounting for a pair of Weir-trained stayers in his Cup win at St Arnaud.
Len Rodda's been desperate to have a runner in the Marong Cup, so we are delivering it for him.Danny Curran
He assessed the field for the 2200m event as even.
“It’s a field we are not afraid to be running in, actually quite similar to the St Arnaud Cup,” he said.
“(Manhattan Menage) was fourth in the Hanging Rock Cup (1800m) and that was a bit short for him.
“And he didn’t really like the run up and down the Hanging Rock (track) hills either.
“He needs 2000m-plus. He hasn’t won at the 2200m of the Marong Cup but we are confident he will run the distance.”
Bendigo trainers will supply two of the nine runners, with Brett Charry saddling up veteran stayer Grassini.
The nine-year-old gelding is backing up after a seventh over the 2200m Cup distance at Bendigo last Friday.
He last won a race at Echuca (over 3220m) last November.
Curran talked up the importance of the Marong club and its Cup meeting to Bendigo racing.
“The great thing with Marong (Racing Club) is it supports the local schools and all the profits go to the schools,” he said.
“It’s a big volunteers’ day and a very good community day.
“It’s a popular day too – a lot of people get there and really support it.”
The first of seven races on Saturday starts at 1.21pm, with gates open at 11am.