After a barnstorming victory over superstar Koblenz in a Melbourne Cup prelude last week, country cups specialist Garry Selkrig is optimistic Invictus Rising can repeat the dose in Friday afternoon’s Group 2 RAM Security Cranbourne Cup heats (520m).
Selkrig is no stranger to country cups success, winning the Warragul Cup with ‘iron dog’ Stagger (2012) and To The Galo’s (2016) and the Shepparton Cup with Peter Galo (2018), but the Devon Meadows mentor rates Invictus Rising superior to all three.
“I think he’s better than them,” said Selkrig.
“He’s a nice dog. He’s got a V8 in him. That’s his nickname, we call him the V8!”
Invictus Rising, a son of 2017 Healesville Cup runner-up Invictus Rapid, showcased that massive engine in last Thursday’s opening round of Melbourne Cup preludes at Sandown Park, where he finished over the top of star duo Barooga Smoke and $1.50 favourite Koblenz in a slick 29.37sec.
Selkrig admits he’s not thrilled to be meeting Koblenz, the winner of 21 from 34, once again in Friday’s fourth Cranbourne Cup heat (race 8 at 4.37pm) where Koblenz (Box 2) is TAB’s $1.55 favourite, ahead of Invictus Rising (box 7) at $4 and Kinson Bale (box 6) at $4.80.
“Of course he’s a chance,” said a bullish Selkrig.
“They were both top dogs he beat last week and I thought the win was a bit arrogant.
“You always need some luck in these races but I think Box 7 will be alright.
“I’ve been in the Cranbourne Cup final twice, with Stagger Inn (2010) and Noaki Spitfire (2014) but haven’t run a place yet.
“The last time I ended up picking up the lollies at the end of the night with Bobby Baldock, so hopefully I end up with more than a bag of lollies this time!”
The winner of 12 of his 29 starts and three of his last four, Invictus Rising recorded impressive middle distance victories at Sandown and The Meadows prior to booking a prized berth in the Melbourne Cup heats with his last start prelude success.
WATCH: Invictus Rising (3) storms over the top of Barooga Smoke (5) and odds-on favourite Koblenz (2) to win Melbourne Cup prelude 2 at Sandown Park last Thursday.
“I’m as good as other trainers that get handed good dogs but nobody is going to give me anything. So we bought some dogs and started winning races.”
“I had the (G1) Hume Cup heats this Saturday in my head but I don’t think he really likes The Meadows,” Selkrig explained.
“He’s not the same dog there but he loves Sandown. We thought about it and decided to go to the Cranbourne Cup heats.
“He’s in the Melbourne Cup heats now, touchwood, and to be honest, I think he’s a chance of winning the Melbourne Cup. You need that luck but he can get that V8 running at the right time and away he goes.”
Admitting to frustration at a lack of training opportunities, Selkrig decided to purchase Invictus Rising after he’d opened his career in highly impressive fashion, winning seven of his first 12 starts for Harry Manolitsis.
After taking time to adjust to his new environment, Invictus Rising is repaying Selkrig’s faith and hasn’t missed a place in his last 13 starts to earn a crack at a hometown country cups triumph.
“Nobody is going to hand me a dog, so we decided to take a punt and start buying a few dogs,” Selkrig explained.
“I’ve been in the game a long time and I’m as good as other trainers that get handed good dogs but nobody is going to give me anything. So we bought some dogs and started winning races. You’ve got to have the animal.
“When he first came to my place he was a bit quiet and quirky. He’s a bit of a weirdo!
“I put him in a few races and he went a bit ordinary, so I thought we need to do something about this.
“I worked on his confidence, lots of love and pats and plenty of beach work and he’s really come good now. He’s improving each week and is jumping out of his skin. I can’t wait for Friday!”
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