The Ross Stitt trained Single Spirit has won eight country cups but never won a Port Macquarie Cup or even the cup Prelude.
Stitt hopes to fill in the first of those two gaps in the horse’s record by winning Sunday’s $30,000 Stowe Australia Port Macquarie Cup Prelude (1812m) then move on from there and tackle the $100,000 Carlton Mid Port Macquarie Cup (2000m) on October 7.
Single Spirit has been given top weight of 62.5kgs for the Prelude and the trainer admits that worries him.
“You worry about any weight when it gets above 60kgs but there’s not much that can be done about it,” Stitt said.
To help counter that weight, four kilogram claiming apprentice Chloe Baker has retained the ride after running third on him at Taree at his first run for seven weeks.
Single Spirit had 63.5kgs that day and Baker’s claim brought him in with a much easier 59.5kgs.
“Chloe is still learning her trade but she rode him well, she didn’t do anything wrong and her claim is certainly a big help,” Stitt said.
She settled the horse on the rail on fourth and fifth place, made a run in the straight and was only beaten a little over a length.
She was close, but not quite close enough.
However when it comes to the Port Macquarie Cup, Stitt has two top jockeys in his sights, Robert Thompson and Josh Parr.
Robert would be number one on the list but he is probably number one with several other trainers as well.
And that’s rightly so because Thompson is being chased by plenty of others.
“Robert would be number one on the list but he is probably number one with several other trainers as well,” Stitt said.
“Josh has already rung me enquiring about the ride and he is also a very good rider.
“We will get Sunday out of the way then worry about the cup and riders.”
While Single Spirit is assured of a start in the Prelude fellow Taree trainer Wayne Wilkes is hoping his lightly raced Ice Storm can make it into the field.
She is the winner of her last two starts in restricted company over 1900 metres at Coffs Harbour and 2000 metres at Taree.
She is eligible for easier races than this but Wilkes believes she will not be out of her depth in the field.
“I have an opinion of her as a stayer,” he said.
“She is only lightly framed but she can sustain a finishing burst for some distance and she will be running on.
“If she can run first or second in the Prelude she will go on to the Cup.”
The first two horses home in the Prelude earn exemption from a ballot on the Cup.
The Cup will be run next Friday with the first of eight races at 1.35pm with a high-quality field expected.
There will be a total of $340,000 in prizemoney and Fashions on the Field as well as free shuttle buses.
There will then be a TAB meeting on October 17, followed by meetings on November 10, November 22 and December 1.