Patrick Ryan Junior is approaching the Jericho Cup with a degree of confidence knowing Golden Flag (NZ) (Raise The Flag) has already proven he can handle the distance of Australia’s longest flat race.
Last year, Golden Flag finished second to classy stayer Ablaze (NZ) (Raise The Flag) in the second running of the 4600 metre event at Warrnambool and Ryan Junior believes that will prove the best form for Sunday’s marathon at his home track.
“We know he can run the trip, which is a big positive going into this year’s race. Also I don’t think there are any Ablaze’s in the race this year,” Ryan Junior said.
“Last year Golden Flag and Ablaze cleared out from the others and his form this year is nearly identical. He was beaten three-quarters of a length by Ablaze.”
On that occasion, the third placegetter Where Are You finished 10 lengths behind Golden Flag.
“He’s had a similar preparation. His form is nearly identical to last year and he’s going just as well,” Ryan Junior said.
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, who train Ablaze, also have the likely favourite in this year’s event in last-start winner Wil John.
“Unless Wil John is another Ablaze, and he could be, we’re in it with a huge chance,” Ryan Junior said.
At his last start Golden Flag finished third to Wil John over 3800 metres at Ararat and was beaten almost six lengths but Ryan Junior said his stayer was unlucky.
“Last time he was a bit unlucky as he got caught behind tiring horses who were fading quickly at the 600 metres,” he said.
Ryan Junior will also be represented by former New Zealander Superleggera (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) in the $300,000 event.
Superleggera was purchased for $5000 from an online auction after he’d had three starts in New Zealand.
Since joining the stable he’s had six starts and won his last one over 3200 metres at Echuca.
“He’s a one-batter. We stepped him up from 2000 metres to 3200 metres and he handled it and now we’re going out to 4800 metres,” Ryan Junior said.
“He’ll be the least experienced horse in the race but he stays all day and he’ll be set for next year’s Grand Annual, as will Golden Flag.”
Golden Flag will be ridden by Tommy Ryan and Superleggera by Nathan Newton.
Ryan also has Periscope entered for the Jericho Cup but he doesn’t think he will get into the field and is likely to instead contest the $60,000 consolation event over 4065 metres.