While we are most excited to see Vivy Air in her first Group 1 test on Saturday, we also look forward to our three runners in the Country Cup Series Final later in the day.
The $500,000 final will be run over 2000m and brings together the best performed horses from the 36 Country Cups run by professional clubs across Victoria throughout the last 12 months. The ballot order was determined by points accumulated in Victorian Country Cups from November 2022 through to the 2023 Ararat Gold Cup last Sunday.
All of our expected runners, Vardani, Harmysian and Sous Les Nuages have claimed a country cup win in the last few months and have made the field on Saturday, which will have 16 runners plus 4 emergencies.
Vardani, who claimed his Werribee Cup win in December last year, had since had a spell and is now three runs into his preparation with trainer Archie Alexander. The grey kicked off strongly over a distance too short to his liking, being beaten only two lengths, but is yet to find his way back into the winners stall.
Vardani will be ridden by Declan Bates, a winner of two Group 1 races across the Flemington carnival, who will also ride Vivy Air in the Thousand Guineas earlier in the day.
Sous Les Nuages was a more recent winner for connections, saluting in the Mortlake Cup only 11 days ago. The 7yo gelding was first up in that 2000m race, impressing with a strong finish after a lengthy spell.
“I thought it was a good first up performance and it will be good to give him another run over 2000m. It will be a tougher race than last time, but he’s in good form and we are going for some good prizemoney. We kept him pretty fresh leading up into the race and Neil Farley will ride him again.” comments Matt Cumani in his latest update to owners.
Last, but not least, is our Kyneton Cup winner Harmysian, who claimed his Country Cup only last week and will be on the quickest back-up of our contenders. The 7yo had a rather difficult start to his life in Australia, struggling with multiple allergies as well as suffering a minor injury.
“He took a while to get acclimatised to his new life here and we had a little set back with his injury, but he is a happy and healthy horse now and it really shows in his performances. I’m very happy with him, he improved from his first up run in September and then scored the Kyneton Cup last week, which was a great win for his owners.”, says trainer Clayton Douglas.
The gelding comes into Saturday’s race with plenty of race fitness under his belt and will again be ridden by Jye McNeil.
See the full field and all race details for all three horses here.