ALBURY trainer Ron Stubbs has warned punters not to dismiss his proven performer Spunlago as a winning hope in tomorrow's $100,000 Wodonga Gold Cup.
While a cursory glance at the form surrounding Spunlago since resuming may not appear flattering, Stubbs said his galloper could improve sharply in the $100,000 feature.
Spunlago was recently crowned the Southern District Racing Association's Horse of the Year.
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The classy gelding boasts a city win at Flemington earlier this year.
Spunlago has had three unplaced runs since resuming last month and is on the quick back-up after finishing near the tail of the field in Sunday's Kilmore Cup at Seymour.
"I'm happy with how he has pulled-up since the run at Seymour on Sunday," Stubbs said.
"I thought to finish just over four lengths from the winner was not a bad effort.
"If you analyse the form, a lot of his rivals were coming out of group races over the Melbourne spring carnival.
"So we are dropping back a fair bit in class in the Wodonga Cup.
"I suppose the query is whether the Wodonga Cup is going to four lengths worse than the Kilmore Cup or not.
"But I will be surprised if my horse is not somewhere in the finish."
Spunlago finished fourth in the Wodonga Cup last year taken out by Gold Fields.
But there were excuses after he copped a check at a crucial stage in the race.
Spunlago will carry top-weight of 59kg with four-time group one winning jockey James Winks booked to ride.
"I don't think the weight will beat him because he has won with 60kg plus in the past, albeit in weaker company," Stubbs said.
"He is a big, strong horse and don't get me wrong, you would love to carry less weight but he is top-weight for a reason.
"History says he takes several runs into a preparation before finding his best form.
"I expect him to derive enormous benefit from his run the other day.
"He is a big, gross horse and you can either work him into the ground on the track to gain fitness or race him to peak fitness.
"I prefer to race him to peak fitness."
Stubbs conceded Spunlago would still need his fair share of luck if he was to add his name to the Wodonga Gold Cup honour roll.
The big striding son of Hard Spun likes to get back in his races before unleashing his powerful sprint late.
"I was slightly disappointed to draw 10 and I would have been a lot happier with four or five," he said.
"You obviously don't want to be caught wide and that's one of the reasons why he went back to last in the Kilmore Cup.
"Hopefully we get a bit of luck early and slot into a spot somewhere on the fence."