TOMORROW’S $80,000 Wangaratta Cup has opened right up following the scratching of high-profile import Ancient King.
Last-start Listed Kilmore Cup (1600m) placegetter Reparations, trained by Anthony Freedman, has also withdrawn from the race.
Ancient King, who recently arrived at Peter Moody’s Caulfield stables, had been expected to make its Australian debut at Wangaratta this weekend.
It was scratched yesterday.
Scouted and purchased by Moody last year, Ancient King boasts strong form in some of Italy’s premier three-year-old races, including a third in the group 2 Italian Derby (2200m) worth almost $1 million in May.
The gelding has placed in all 10 of its career starts.
With the two highest-rated horses out of the 1590-metre feature, the chances of Wodonga trainer Peter Maher pulling off a shock win with Minnesota Hussle have soared.
But there’s no doubt it will be the consistent seven-year-old’s biggest test to date.
“By a long way,” Maher said.
“But he’s a good, honest campaigner who will give 110 per cent.”
Premier Wodonga trainer Brian Cox looks every chance of snaring the race with his two-pronged attack.
Full Hand and Bringenbrong will both contest the $80,000 feature race and are more than capable types.
Brendan McCarthy-trained Commanding Time and lightly raced five-year-old Tigerland both travel to the North East with strong city form under their belt.
Commanding Time has been installed as the $3.50 favourite in early markets.
Albury’s Brett Cavanough will be hoping Price of Glory can improve sharply on its third at Albury last start.
The race jumps at 4.25pm tomorrow.