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Riley Says Rupert Clarke Draw Is Gold

Sep 16 2009

Trainer Mark Riley was delighted when Gold Salute drew barrier four for Saturday's Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield in light of his belief that the gate beat him last start.

The six-year-old, who won at his first attempt at black-type company in the Listed Winter Championship Final at Flemington in July, stepped up to the Group Three Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on September 5 and was beaten a half-length by the talented Swift Alliance.

While Gold Salute was forced to make all the running from barrier one in the straight event, Swift Alliance tucked in behind the speed down the grandstand section of the course after jumping from gate 12 in the 15-horse field before unleashing his finishing sprint.

"He (Gold Salute) did the hard yards by himself on the inside of the track with all the pace on the outside and he came through it very well," Riley said.

"It's always good to see a horse run well and place himself in that sort of company. Every time he's been asked to step up he's done that."

Riley said Gold Salute, who has won seven and placed in another six of his 21 starts, was at the top of his game for Saturday's 1400m Group One feature.

"Unfortunately he was one of those horses who had EI (equine influenza) and it's taken him a long time to get over that and get back into form," he said.

Riley, who prepared Mookta to win the 1993 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield and the 1994 Newmarket Hcp (1200m) at Flemington, said Gold Salute had paid for his consistent form in the winter when he won three consecutive races at Flemington.

"He's paying for it now with his rating. He has to carry 56 kilos but it's off a 53.5 kilo minimum so he's not badly off," Riley said.

However, Riley noted that Gold Salute had the same weight as Group One 2008 Stradbroke Handicap winner Mr Baritone and only two kilos less than last year's Clarke Stakes victor Orange County.

Mark Pegus, who has ridden Gold Salute in three of his past four runs for two wins and a second, retains the mount.

Orange County won the Rupert Clarke in 2008 when he overcome barrier 15 in the 18-horse field with Damien Oliver aboard.

This time he has drawn even more poorly and will start from the outside gate in the 18-horse field.

Mark Zahra will ride Orange County while Oliver will ride Von Costa De Hero - who drew barrier 12 - for only the third time in a race.

Ridden by Craig Newitt last start in the Memsie Stakes, the four-year-old loomed up to challenge eventual winner Mic Mac at the top of the straight but capitulated to finish second last of the 12 runners.

Oliver has an outstanding record in the Sir Rupert Clarke having won it six times.

By Mark Ryan - AAP


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