TRAINER Gino D’Altorio is confident his talented gelding Sonro can become the first local horse to take out the Yellowtail/Visy Griffith Cup tomorrow at Dalton Park.
The son of Lonhro will start as the warm favourite to take out the 1350m showpiece event on the back of strong lead-in form.
The six-year-old beat last year’s Griffith Cup winner Produced to win the Narrandera Cup on August 17, and has finished first past the post in four of his last six races.
D’Altorio said it would be a “very proud” moment for him if Sonro was to make history and taste victory in his home event.
“I think this is the right horse to do it,” he said.
“He looks good, he’s feeling good and hopefully everything will go all right.
“He’s had a good lead-up but anything can happen on the day.”
Sonro’s nearest challenger looms as the Daryl Archard-trained Produced from Echuca, who is top weight and will be looking for back-to-back wins.
The other fancy is Wodonga gelding Smoken Cash, trained by Brian Cox and coming off a recent placing at Moonee Valley.
However, D’Altorio is backing Sonro’s familiarity with the track to prove the difference.
“My horse knows it pretty well, so I’m confident,” he said.
“We raced against Produced in Narrandera and beat him well. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be confident.”
Leading bookmaker Terry Coelli backed Sonro to do the business ahead of Smoken Cash and Produced.
“I think Sonro will be very hard to beat. He’s in career-best form,” he said.
“He’s up a little bit in weight but has just been super on his home track, he’s well drawn – he’s just got everything in his favour.
“For second I think Smoken Cash. The only thing there is it hasn’t won beyond 1200m – that’s the only problem.
“The top weight Produced is a chance, it was beaten a length and a quarter by Sonro at Narrandera but it’s a kilo better off.
“It’s been drawn wide and it’s got an apprentice on it, so Sonro’s my tip.”
The Dalton Park track is expected to be in perfect order for tomorrow’s races, according to Griffith Jockey Club president Judy Kroek.
“It’s amazing. The stewards checked it yesterday and they’ve said it will be rated a Good 3, which is just fantastic,” she said.
“The weather is excellent as well –we’ve had it a bit cold the last few years but it’s looking like it will be a perfect spring day.”
As expected, D’Altorio’s apprentice jockey Chynna Marston will ride in all races bar the Griffith Cup.
She will be on the Russell Hogan-trained Benny’s Jet, who she rode to her maiden win last weekend at Berrigan, in the GW Speirs Jewellers Benchmarh 45 Handicap (1200m).
Marston will also be the jockey for D’Altorio’s Imposing Vein, Miss Mafassa and Out In The Third.