Consistent stayer Eastender didn’t quite measure up in the Hobart and Launceston cups but gets his chance for a consolation win in the $25,000 Tasmanian St Leger at Mowbray on Wednesday night.
The time-honoured St Leger has been brought forward on this year’s calendar after being run in May for the past decade.
Unfortunately for the connections of the nine horses contesting the 2650-metre race, it’s also had a stakes reduction.
It was worth more money 20 years ago.
In the early 2000s, the St Leger stake was $32,200, rising to $35,000 in the mid-2000s. In those days, it was run as a lead-up to the Launceston Cup.
For the past nine years it’s been worth $30,000.
Eastender is trying to become only the third horse in the past 45 years to win the race two years a row.
If successful, he will emulate Dartington (2002-03) and the great Conquering (2007-08).
Eastender was not long out of maiden company when he won 12 months ago beating Son Of Faith and Divine Denona.
Now he is one of the state’s best stayers, having finished only three lengths behind Pretty Punk in the Hobart Cup and 2-¼ lengths behind Bondeiger in the Launceston Cup.
His toughest opposition is likely to come from topweight Up Cups who beat him home in the Hobart Cup but was a fair way behind him in the Launceston Cup.
Only six runners will contest the other feature race on the program, the $25,000 ATA Fillies & Mares Handicap, after trainer Scott Brunton decided to save topweight Life On The Wire for the $200,000 Sunline Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday week.
Brunton still has two starters including favourite Step The Pedal.
MEECH BOOKED TO RIDE I’M WESLEY
The owners of top Tasmanian sprinter I’m Wesley have decided to stick with a proven formula.
I’m Wesley has never been beaten when ridden by a female jockey, winning four times for Raquel Clark and twice for Teagan Voorham.
For that reason, leading Victorian rider Linda Meech has been booked for the gelding’s next start in the $200,000 Hareeba Stakes at Mornington on March 24.
Luke Currie, who rode I’m Wesley when a close second at Flemington 11 days ago, is unavailable due to commitments in Sydney.
Stand-in trainer Mark Ganderton said Meech would get a feel of the five-year-old in a track gallop at Mornington this weekend.
I’m Wesley will return to his regular trainer Glenn Stevenson as soon as he is re-licensed after completing a two-month disqualification.
Stevenson won six races in a row with I’m Wesley, including two $100,000 feature events, before the horse went to Melbourne.