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Australian Racing: Ashrun to outpace his Geelong rivals

There are five meetings on the schedule on Wednesday, with the Group 3 bet365 Geelong Cup the undoubted highlight of the day.

Race 7 Geelong

Ashrun @ 5.50

Race 3 Randwick Kensington

Golden Passport @ 3.80

Race 6 Ascot

The Great Hoya @ 4.60

Ashrun backed for Cup success

The feature race at Geelong is set to take place over 2400m with a field of 17 declared for the $500,000 Group 3 handicap event.

Virtuous Circle is expected to have his supporters, with last season’s Group 1 Australian Derby runner-up having had three starts this prep.

The colt, who usually races from off the pace, was beaten just over three-and-a-half-lengths in the Group 3 Bart Cummings over 2520m at Flemington earlier this month on his most recent start.

Liam Howley’s four-year-old had made two starts over shorter prior to that effort and, while significant improvement is expected here, preference is for top weight ASHRUN.

The ex-European galloper came home fourth in a nine-runner renewal of this contest in 2020, but has made just four starts since including when winning the Group 3 Hotham Stakes on his next start.

The 5.50 selection missed the whole of 2021 and 2022, returning to action with a fair seventh in a 1700m handicap at Flemington last month.

While Ciaron Maher & David Eustace’s inmate jumped at big odds for the previously mentioned Group 3 Bart Cummings, he acquitted himself well in finishing sixth on his most recent start.

The pick raced in the rear for much of that contest, finishing strongly in the straight to be beaten just over two-and-a-half-lengths on a good 4 track.

That Bart Cummings effort should have put him spot-on for this and he can provide jockey Mark Zahra with a victory here.

Passport ready for Randwick glory

The third race at Randwick Kensington is an interesting Benchmark 78 handicap set to take place over 2400m on a soft 5 track.

The Chris Waller-trained Speycaster delivered his first victory since switching hemispheres when scoring by a narrow margin in a 2000m Class 1 set weights event at Hawkesbury earlier this month.

The five-year-old steps up in distance here, but should have no issues with the trip, given that he performed well over 2800m when trained in the UK.

However, the consistent GOLDEN PASSPORT is the pick in this contest, having registered a number of big efforts since breaking his maiden by a narrow margin over 1500m at Muswellbrook in August.

Those subsequent efforts include three seconds most recently when beaten a length in a 2200m Benchmark 72 handicap at Warwick Farm at the start of the month.

The 3.80 four-year-old was ridden with more restraint when narrowly beaten into fourth over 2400m back at Warwick Farm two weeks ago.

The wet track forecast should pose no issues with the gelding having performed well on soft and heavy going when racing in maiden company and he is taken to double his career tally. 

Hoya to complete a hat-trick

The penultimate race on Ascot’s seven race card is a competitive looking 1000m Class 3 handicap contest.

THE GREAT HOYA has been in good form so far this spell, including when racing wide throughout prior to delivering a three-length victory in a Benchmark 46+ handicap at Belmont Park first up.

That victory came on a good 4 track and he encountered similar underfoot conditions when saluting over the same distance in a Class 5 handicap at Northam earlier this month.

Connections changed tactics at Northam, with the 4.60 pick making all the running, however, with a wide barrier here he is expected to be ridden from behind the speed.

Brayden Gaerth, on board at Belmont Park, returns to the saddle here and he looks up to delivering a victory aboard the Jade Tangaroa-trained gelding.

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