Evopex (outside) ridden by Matt McGuren kicks past Cool Prince ridden by Ben Looker to win the 2019 Maclean Cup.
Evopex (outside) ridden by Matt McGuren kicks past Cool Prince ridden by Ben Looker to win the 2019 Maclean Cup.

Coffs galloper looking to clinch back-to-back Maclean Cups

COFFS Harbour trainer Jim Jarvis wouldn’t mind a bit more rain over the weekend as he strives for back-to-back wins in Sunday’s $32,000 Maclean Cup (1400m) at Grafton.

Evopex started the odds-on favourite to win last year’s Maclean Cup after running a slashing race at his previous start at Grafton when second behind Malea Magic in the John Carlton Cup over 1200m.

This year, Evopex is dropping back to the 1400m for the Maclean Cup after his last-start third behind Jazzland and Brazen in the South Grafton Cup over 1600m on July 5.

“That is the slight worry I have about him this year – dropping back from the mile – but I haven’t done much with him since the South Grafton Cup and I’m expecting him to be thereabouts again in this year’s Maclean Cup,” Jarvis said.

The Grafton track was rated a soft5 on Friday morning and Jarvis wouldn’t mind if it got a touch wetter over the weekend.

“I certainly wouldn’t mind a bit more rain before Sunday as I think that would definitely enhance his chances,” he said.

“I want him to have this run on Sunday under his belt as I’m keen for him to tackle the Sawtell Cup in a couple of weeks time.”

The Sawtell Cup (1500m) will be run at Coffs Harbour on July 26.

Evopex has not won since last year’s Maclean Cup, but some of his runs in defeat have been excellent. He was beaten less than two lengths when fourth in last year’s $152,000 Coffs Harbour Cup (1600m) and then finished third in the $50,000 Rousillon Hcp (1515m) at Lismore.

“He keeps on picking up prizemoney and hopefully there’s a few more wins still in him,” Jarvis said.

Matt McGuren rode Evopex in last year’s Maclean Cup and has been aboard the six-year-old at his past two starts, but goes on the Matt Dunn-trained Saxton Rock, the likely favourite for Sunday’s race if he runs at Grafton. Saxton Rock was also an acceptor for Saturday’s Sunshine Coast meeting.

Jarvis has booked Stephen Traecey for Evopex on Sunday.

“I reckon Stephen’s probably ridden more winners at Grafton than anybody,” said Jarvis.

This year’s Maclean Cup looks pretty open, with Saxton Rock, the Stephen Jones-trained Herzegovina, the Stephen Lee-trained Nothingforthepress, and Coffs Harbour galloper Tower Road all shaping as definite hopes.

Nothingforthepress could top off a pretty good Grafton carnival for Lee and jockey Jon Grisedale if he can land the Maclean Cup.

The trainer and jockey combined to win Thursday’s $45,000 Springboard To Fame 2YO Plate (1200m) with Freya’s Cloak who overcame a wide gate and a betting drift to lead all the way for her third straight win.

Warwick Farm trainer Con Karakatsanis has won three races from his six Grafton runners since the end of June and can add to that tally when Miss Clambake tackles Sunday’s Benchmark 58 Hcp (1700m).

The Elvstroem mare broke through at her fifth start at Grafton on June 28, winning a Maiden over 1600m, and looks hard to beat again on Sunday.