Prominent owner-trainer Graeme Hammarquist has been successful in a host of feature races across WA but there is one trophy missing from his cabinet that he would dearly love to win: his hometown Geraldton Cup.
Hammarquist believes Amberlyn will represent his best chance of realising a life-long dream and is hopeful the gutsy mare can improve on her third placing to Perth galloper I Don’t Recall in last year’s staying feature.
Amberlyn pressed her claims for the $80,000 XXXX-Gold Geraldton Cup (2100m) with a series of top performances in Perth where she ran three consecutive minor placings against a competitive group of stayers.
It included a gallant effort two starts back when she attempted to lead all-the-way over 2100m before being gunned down by Mount Barker Cup (2000m) champion and Sunday rival Hibernian in the last stride.
“This is a race I have been striving for and I would desperately love to win it,” Hammarquist said.
“My instinct is telling me she is going a stride or two better than last year.
“She is in good form and don’t be concerned by her last-start effort when unplaced.
“She was on the seven day back up which didn’t suit.
“More importantly her work and attitude since has been perfect.
“She is keen as mustard, happy, on top of her game and I can’t see why she can’t finish in the top three.”
It Won’t Be Long will carry high hopes for trainer Andrew Voigt with victory clinching Geraldton Horse of the Year honours.
The Elvstroem gelding has been a star during the Geraldton season with four wins and four placings from eight starts this preparation.
Senior rider Clint Harvey replaces apprentice Mitchell Pateman who rode the gelding into second position behind Managing Director last week.
“I was happy with that performance and the way he attacked the line,” said Voigt.
“It completed an almost perfect preparation and I couldn’t have asked much more of the horse.
“It was after he ran second in last December’s Walkaway Cup that I started to seriously think he was good enough to have a crack at the cup.
“Sunday will be his toughest test to date but I’m keen and excited about his chances.
“He gives me every indication of running out the journey.
“I’m hoping it’s a case of third time lucky after Fujiama ran consecutive ninth placings for me in the 2002 and 2003 Geraldton Cups.”