Members of the Gissy Dogs Syndicate that races Group 2 Geelong Gold Cup finalist Riley’s Paige had their sights set on thoroughbred’s big Cups this spring.
They are part-owners of imported galloper Django Freeman, which was well-fancied in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups before injury curtailed his campaign.
While those dreams have been put on hold, they’ll be heading to Geelong on Friday night to watch hometown hopeful Riley’s Paige, trained at Anakie by 33-year-old Clint Capuano, takes aim at the Geelong Gold Cup.
“The owners are absolutely stoked,” said Capuano.
“Most of the syndicate are from Gisborne and there’ll be about 15 of them coming to the track on Friday in a mini-bus. Win, lose or draw they’re going to enjoy the night.
“Some of the group have small shares in Django Freeman and they had high hopes for the Caulfield Cup before he was scratched but they might win the Geelong Cup instead. Fingers crossed!”
While Riley’s Paige is trained locally, the consistent son of Fabregas was making his debut at his home track in last Friday’s Cup heats, where he started at $6.40, dropping back to 460m after impressive recent 525m and 600m form at The Meadows.
Riley’s Paige was best to begin from box six and after being headed by odds-on favourite Slingshot Hammer approaching the home turn he kept kicking strongly in the straight to finish second, beaten 2 lengths in 25.64s.
After drawing box seven for Friday’s Cup Final, Riley’s Paige is a $21 outsider; however Capuano is hopeful he’ll benefit from last week’s Geelong debut.
“I’d never trialled him there over 460m,” said Capuano.
“He’d only had one 400m trial at Geelong about three weeks ago. The finish-on lure might spark him up a bit and hopefully there’ll be some improvement this week.
“He went very nice in his heat. It didn’t really surprise me because he’s a very handy dog. He’s been running against good dogs in town and was only beaten a length by Barooga Brett at The Meadows at his previous start.
“He loves The Meadows but doesn’t go as well at Sandown. I reckon 545m is probably his ideal distance. He goes really over 525m at The Meadows but doesn’t quite get the 600m.
“He’s drawn okay in seven. It probably suits him because he wants to use a bit of the track. He’ll stay out there and won’t crash over.
“I think the pink (Runnin’ Royalty) will stay out there and hopefully they both get a clear run.
“If he’s untouched I’m hoping he can run top three.”
Capuano’s only previous taste of Group action came with Gangnam Style, which chased home the great Fernando Bale in the 2015 Group 1 Harrison-Dawson and also contested the Group 3 Chairman’s Cup in Sydney the same year.
“We were up against Fernando Bale in the Harrison-Dawson so we went into the race not expecting a lot and not a lot happened!” Capuano laughed.
Riley’s Paige is likely to head interstate for his next feature race target, with Capuano eyeing off the heats of the Group 3 Gawler Gold Cup (531m) next Tuesday (October 29).
WATCH: Riley’s Paige (6) began well before running second to Slingshot Hammer in a heat of the Geelong Gold Cup.
FEATURED PHOTO: Riley’s Paige with trainer Clint Capuano, partner Chloe and daughter Charlotte. Photo by: Molly Haines.