Champion Bundaberg horse trainer Darryl Gardiner rarely misses out on a winner on Melbourne Cup Day at Thabeban Park, having won at least one event on Australia’s biggest race day for each of the past five years, and claiming a double on two occasions.
Tomorrow, he will saddle up runners, Shenzi in the Class B, veteran Al’s Briefs in the Open Handicap, and Kruger in the Benchmark 60 Handicap, all to be ridden by apprentice Rebecca Wilson.
Ten-year-old Al’s Briefs won at the Cup Day meetings in 2015 and last year, and despite being in the twilight of a grand career which has netted him 19 wins and 23 minor placings for earnings of $147,610, including two wins, two seconds and four thirds from 12 outings over the past year, the popular gelding looms as a big chance again, especially with the 3kg claiming allowance for Rebecca.
Bouldercombe gelding Best Guess, which has had just one start on the track, finishing fourth in the Lightning Handicap at the last local meeting on September 5, looms as his biggest danger after winning at his past two appearances at Blackall and Gladstone, in the latter of which Al’s Briefs claimed third.
Shenzi, a stylish grey mare which has had two wins and two seconds from four starts since joining Darryl’s stables, will likely be a hot favourite and she will take a power of beating.
Kruger, which will be having just his second start since a seven-month spell, will need to improve after being unplaced at each of his three Bundaberg runs so far.
Another local Gambit, which is trained by Laura Cronan and will be ridden by another apprentice Shannyn Stephan, who won the Bundaberg Cup at the last meeting, makes strong appeal, although another grey, Froze, a stable-mate to Best Guess which won at Roma three starts back before placing third in Longreach, also has claims.
Another Bundaberg mentor Lyn Petersen is represented in the remaining two events, with Toy Whitty looming as a genuine chance of finally breaking through in the maiden after posting two seconds, one third and six fourths in nine starts to date, and Mia Singa in a wide-open Benchmark 45 Handicap.
Unfortunately, spectator numbers at Bundaberg Race Club are still restricted by COVID-19 regulations and all admission tickets were sold out two weeks ago, and no general admission tickets will be available at the gate.