AN EXCITING Saturday for Mick Sell Racing won’t be confined to stable star Penny To Sell’s much anticipated return to racing at Flemington.
The astute Bendigo trainer will be chasing another feature race win in the $25,000 Bendigo Ford Marong Cup with tough stayer Raid the Cabinet.
The five-year-old is the sole Bendigo-trained galloper in the small seven-horse Cup field, which has been boosted by a pair of stayers from Eric Musgrove’s Cranbourne stable and one each from Ballarat trainers Archie Alexander and Melody Cunningham.
Raid the Cabinet has struck plenty of trouble in recent starts, but connections have nonetheless been buoyed by a luckless seventh over 2100m at Sandown last week when the gelding got to the line hard.
Stable spokesperson Melissa Sell said Raid the Cabinet had continued to train well and given even the slightest bit of luck would be right in the finish over the 2200m distance.
“He’s been really stiff, he won two in a row (at Yarra Valley and Bendigo), but his last three starts at Sandown have been desperately unlucky,” she said.
“Two starts ago they dawdled in front and he just got left behind when they sprinted and then last start, Chelsea MacFarlane rode him and he got stuck on the rail and the leader came back on his face and he was pretty much sideways trying to find a run and couldn’t find one anywhere. It was like watching a horror show.
“He’s a very handy horse, who is still maturing – he’s still pretty young in the brain. But he’s learning to settle now – he used to over-race terribly.
“He has a very big length of stride and can eat up the ground if he’s given free running.
“We can’t fault him, we are honestly very positive going into this race.”
The gelding is bred to stay, being the son of 2008 Victoria Derby winner Rebel Raider.
He will be ridden by Dean Holland, who has been in the saddle in each of Raid the Cabinet’s three wins from 20 starts.
A Marong Cup win would add to some handy wins for the Sell stable since its move to Bendigo from Kyneton mid-last year, including success on Bendigo Cup day with Carlingford, and Penny to Sell’s victory in the Dunkeld Cup in November and at Flemington in a $100,000 race in November.
While Melissa will stay in Bendigo with Raid the Cabinet, husband and trainer Mick will be at Flemington to oversee the fortunes of All-Star Mile candidate Penny To Sell.
With public voting for the $5-million weight-for-age feature ongoing over the last month and set to wind up at noon on Monday, Melissa said it had been an exciting experience for the stable.
She hoped to be able to drum up some last-minute support for the mare’s entry into the inaugural All-Star Mile on a big day at the racecourse for the Marong community.
The popular meeting has elicited interest from plenty of home track trainers, with Mick Bath, Allan Browell, Brett Charry, Brad Cole, Danny Curran, Steven Lake, Adam O’Neill, Graham Salisbury, Andrew Sawden and Debbie Wills all having at least one runner each.
Among the best chances is the Curran-trained Welcome Stryker, who has been racing consistently in stronger class races at metropolitan venues over the last two months, but is dropping back to a benchmark 58 event.
The six-year-old has been placed in five of eight starts this preparation, including twice at Sandown and once at Moonee Valley, and will be aiming for a second-straight 1600m win on Marong Cup day.
The first of seven races is at 1.26pm, with the cup (race five) scheduled for 3.46pm.
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