LUKE Pepper’s Cups crusader Quichang will not step out for the Moruya Cup on Monday after the trainer decided to save the eight-year-old’s legs for the Bega Cup on February 3.
That decision, announced on Wednesday, meant the Moruya trainer will have only one runner in Monday’s $27,000 feature race, that being in-form gelding Gregory’s Fortress.
The six-year-old has had a win and three seconds in its previous four starts and should appreciate the slightly longer distance (1900 metres) of the Moruya Cup.
Talented hoop Jay Ford has been appointed the rider and Pepper said he was quietly confident of success, despite the presence of Narooma Cup-winning gelding Fair Nation, who is sure to head into the race as favourite.
“It’ll only be Gregory’s Fortress but we’re looking forward to seeing him go around in a race like this,” Pepper said.
Gregory’s Fortress’s last three runs have all been over 1600m and despite enjoying great success over the mile Pepper suggested his horse would be better for the extra distance
“He’s just so honest. He’s probably been looking for a bit further and this is 1900 (metres), which I think will suit the horse,” he said.
“The horse is going to be a good lightweight chance with a very good rider on him, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Pepper has fond memories of the Moruya Cup – he won the last two with Ilringya – but he was well aware that winning three in a row could be the most difficult.
“Obviously (Fair Nation) is going to be the horse to beat in the race and I think the 1900 is going to suit him better than the Narooma Cup, too,” he said.
“Look, all I can worry about is my horse. I know he’s 100 per cent and I’m looking forward to running him in the Moruya Cup.”
“We’ve won it the last couple of years with Ilringya and it was a bit disappointing to get beaten by a nose the other day in the Narooma Cup but hopefully, we can go one better.”
Country Jockey of the Year Jeff Penza was in the saddle for both of Ilringya’s Moruya Cup wins, but he will ride Paul Murray’s Fair Nation on Monday.
“Fair Nation is in great form and there isn’t much else around to suit him,” Murray said.
“He is looking for more ground so the step up to 1900 metres in the Moruya Cup will suit him.”
If Penza were to win on Monday, it would be his fourth Moruya Cup success.