Newly-crowned Sandown Park record-holder Aston Rupee is chasing a berth in the Group 1 Adelaide Cup final when he makes his interstate debut as hot favourite in Thursday night’s TAB Match Race Challenge (530m) at Angle Park.
After smashing Sandown’s 515m record at his most recent start, clocking a sensational 28.79sec, Aston Rupee, trained by Glenn Rounds, is all the rage in TAB’s market on the Challenge, which comprises four ‘two-out’ match races.
The superstar son of KC And All and Aston Miley, bred and raced by Ray Borda, dominates ‘All in’ betting at $1.20, while he’s an unbackable $1.04 in his match race against local Rushes.
Fellow Victorians Weblec Blazer ($7) and G2 Geelong Cup winner Weblec Jet ($7.50), trained by partners Angela Langton and Jeff Britton, and Jason Thompson’s second reserve Immunity ($7.50), are the only other runners at single figures in the overall market.
Brilliant winner of 14 of his 26 starts, Aston Rupee thrives on the match race format of Thursday’s Challenge, having won G3 Speed Star series in scorching time at both Sandown (29.06sec) and The Meadows (29.59sec) in recent months.
As well as the overall winner’s purse of $7500, the Match Race Challenge victor will be guaranteed automatic entry into the G1 Adelaide Cup final, worth $100,000 to-the-winner, on Friday, October 8.
Being able to bypass the Cup heats will be a significant advantage to the Victorian Cup hopefuls, factoring in the difficulties associated with interstate travel in the COVID era.
“A courier will pick Aston Rupee up on Thursday and take him to the track and then bring him straight back home afterwards,” Rounds explained.
“That’s their rules and we’ve got to respect them.
“I’ve got a guy in Adelaide that will handle him but he won’t be staying there.
“It’s not ideal and I suppose that’s in the back of your mind.
“But if he’s able to win on Thursday, he can stay home for a fortnight before he has to go back and after the Adelaide Cup he’ll come back to Melbourne and won’t have to travel for the rest of the year.”
WATCH: Aston Rupee (3) smashed the Sandown Park 515m record when clocking 28.79sec on Thursday, September 9, breaking Melbourne Cup winner Hard Style Rico’s previous benchmark of 28.91sec.
The Match Race Challenge scenario will pit four South Australians against the Allstars, the three Victorians, along with ex-Western Australian Stout Monelli, with Aston Rupee to contest the final duel at 8.19pm (AEST).
Rounds confirmed Aston Rupee pulled up in perfect order after his record-breaking Sandown heroics and the astute Devon Meadows mentor isn’t concerned about heading to the new look Angle Park track, which only reopened on August 26 after a multi-million dollar redesign, without a trial.
“He’s good to go,” said Rounds.
“He pulled up really well after Sandown. He was brand new the next morning!
“I gave him a quiet week after that and then gave him a hand-slip at Sandown on Sunday night and he went super.
“The dog is just a phenomenal talent. He had his name on the record, because he’d run 29.13sec a couple of starts earlier coming from behind!
“With the match race concept, I’m not concerned about him not having seen Angle Park. But it’s not something I would do if he was going to a track like Wentworth Park, which can be very tricky, to race in a full field.
“It’s the new look track at Angle Park and it reminds me a bit of Richmond. It looks nice and wide and spacious. He’s performed very well in this format before and if he gets a bit of room he’ll get the job done!”
Aston Rupee is already $2 Adelaide Cup favourite with TAB and if he does qualify for what would be his first G1 event, Rounds is hoping he can go one better than when Melbourne Cup heroine Classic Capri, which was trained by Rounds and late partner Judy Hayley, ran into another freakish speedster in the 2001 Cup Final.
“Classic Capri ran second to Brett Lee 20 years ago, when he ran that ridiculous 28.88sec,” Rounds recalled.
“Classic Capri ran 29.20sec in getting beaten! She was a beauty.”
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