Punting is not an exact science – if it was, Settler’s Stone would not be the rank outsider of today’s $100,000 Devonport Cup field.
One of Longford trainer John Blacker’s four runners, Settler’s Stone is quoted at $91 in the latest Sportsbet market.
Blacker said that, on face value, the seven-year-old was not entitled to be that price.
“His last run, when fourth in the Sheffield Cup , was really good,” the trainer said.
“He finished well in front of Willby Rules who is at single-figure odds for the Devonport Cup.
“And, I would think our horse is better suited than Willby Rules by the step up from 1650m to 1880m.”
Blacker said that Settler’s Stone, a multiple placegetter in listed races in Victoria, had improved since his Sheffield Cup run and was free in his action.
In fact, the trainer is happy with all his runners going into a race that he has won three times, with Pral D’Or (1998), With Decorum (2010) and Powercharged (2017).
He said that Beaufort Lad had good lead-up weight-for-age form, similar to Powercharged.
“He’s trained on well since his last run, has won at Devonport and will get the right run to figure in the placings,” the trainer said.
“Zatacla should also get a nice run from his good draw.
“He over-raced in the Longford Cup, which he can do in trackwork, but I expect the pace to be on this time which will suit the middle and backmarkers.”
Heats of the Devonport Cup on Tuesday saw several of the top fancies qualify for next week’s final but odds-on favourites Huxley and Stop Line got beaten.
St Leonards trainer Robin Grubb had to miss the race with star sprinter Peco Can due to injury but still managed to pick up a heat with veteran Hello Nugget.
“He’s a good old warhorse,” Grubb said after Hello Nugget overcame a moderate start to rail through to the lead and record his 12th win at the track in 25.79.
The trainer said that Peco Can was making a good recovery from a wrist sprain and should be ready to return in two or three weeks.
Mangalore trainer Gary Fahey is hoping the Devonport Cup will provide some consolation for missing the Hobart Thousand with his top bitch Just Browsing.
The consistent sprinter led all the way in 25.72.
Although her three Devonport wins have all been from box 5, Fahey was hoping for box 1 in the final.
Draw: 1 Lenards Boy, 2 Corykodi, 3 Hello Nugget, 4 Zipping Blaze, 5 Despacito, 6 Emerald Rainbow, 7 Just Browsing, 8 Sacred Shadow.