Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou were hoping to follow the same path as twelve months ago with last year’s Big Dance Wildcard winner Cisco Bay, but a wide draw has prompted a rethink.
Cisco Bay came up with barrier 17 for Saturday’s renewal of the 1600m event at Randwick where the first and second placegetters earn qualification and ballot exemption for next month’s $3 million Big Dance over the same course and distance.
The nine-year-old needs to run in the top-two to force his way into the Melbourne Cup Day feature in which he was a narrow second to Rustic Steel last year, but whether his trainers roll the dice from that gate or lower their sights to the Little Dance is up for debate.
“There’s nowhere else to go with him, unless we trial him next week and go straight to the Little Dance,” Ryan said.
“I haven’t had a chance to have a good look at the field, so I’ll decide after that.”
Cisco Bay also drew barrier 17 when returning from a let-up in the Alan Brown Stakes (1400m) last start and while he only beat a handful of rivals home, Ryan was satisfied with the performance
“From that draw, he went back across behind them and his sectionals were good so it was a pass,” he said.
“I’m happy with the old fellow.”
The track was rain-affected when Cisco Bay won the Big Dance Wildcard last year and is set to be firm this weekend, a fact not lost on his trainers.
The horse has had 29 starts on good surfaces and while he has managed 11 placings, he has only posted one win, his remaining eight career-victories coming on soft tracks.
Stablemate Steely is the stable’s No. 1 seed for the Big Dance Wildcard this year after drawing nicely in barrier 10.
While he kicked off his campaign in May, he did have a freshen up after finishing unplaced in the Coffs Harbour Cup in August before returning with a solid midfield performance behind the in-form Vienna Princess two starts ago then winning at Eagle Farm last time out.
“He’s done terrific since he came home,” Ryan said.
“It’s the first time he’s travelled and I don’t think I’ve seen him look any better than he looks now.”
The Big Dance Wildcard has attracted a full field of 17 plus two reserves with the Kris Lees-trained Spangler an early $5.50 favourite while Steely is $10 and Cisco Bay a $51 chance with online bookmakers.
– RAS NewsWire