ROOKIE Randwick trainer Peter Robl has decided to dodge up and coming stayer Tom Melbourne in the $170,000 Albury Gold Cup (2000m) on Friday.
Robl had nominated Centre Pivot for the listed Gold Cup, but is convinced only bad luck can prevent Lee Freedman's imported galloper taking out the race.
Centre Pivot will be saved for the group three Neville Sellwood Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday week.
The five-year-old would have also conceded a big weight advantage to Tom Melbourne and Robl doubted he could turn the tables on the Gai Waterhouse-trained Hippopus who beat his charge in the Canberra Cup.
"He gets into the Neville Sellwood with 55kg and it's a nicer option for him," he said.
"I think Lee's horse will win and win comfortably and we were going to give him four kilos.
I think (Tom Melbourne) will win and win comfortablyPeter Robl
"He has been very impressive in his wins in Melbourne and gets into the race very well at the weights.
"He is a progressive up and coming horse going forward.
"Hippopus we would also struggle to beat so we would end up going down there to run third or fourth.
"The Neville Sellwood is a group three race and my bloke escapes all the penalties because he is only a listed winner."
The dominant win by Tom Melbourne in his last start at Flemington has spooked a number of other cup hopes with only 10 final acceptances from an original 27 nominations.
Robl has only had a trainer's licence since December and won the Gold Cup as a jockey in 2008 on Luvuleo, who was prepared by Graeme Rogerson.
But Robl has a runner on Gold Cup day with Canberra maiden winner Trick Star in the Albury Guineas.
The Exceed and Excel colt will be ridden by apprentice Regan Bayliss who has picked up a Gold Cup ride on Koroibete, who is one of two final acceptors from the Peter Moody stable.
Jake Duffy has the ride on Moody's other entrant, Radical.
Glen Boss keeps the ride on Tom Melbourne, who could deliver Freedman his first Albury Cup winner since Abstraction in 1989.
Abstraction was the last horse to complete the Albury-Wagga cups double.
Freedman is hoping Tom Melbourne can measure up as a Caulfield Cup horse in the spring.
He will carry the minimum weight of 56kg in the Gold Cup.
Tim Clark also keeps the ride on Hippopus from the Canberra Cup.
Four-time Gold Cup winning jockey Matthew Cahill will partner American Time, who ran sixth in the Canberra Cup for trainer Gratz Vella.
Cahill last won the cup in 2013 on Niblick on protest.