Trainer hunts cup victory

UNTIL last year Melbourne trainer Mark Riley, raised in Grafton, had not been to a July Carnival for 30 years.

On Thursday he hopes to return home in triumph with Gold In Dubai winning the $150,000 Wykes Tyrepower Grafton Cup (2350m).

So far everything has fallen into place for a fairytale result.

After winning the Ipswich Cup, the five-year-old gelding showed a ton of tenacity before going down by a short neck to cup rival Spechenka in last Sundays week's $200,000 Caloundra Cup (2400m).

Yesterday, Gold In Dubai, a Michael Walker mount, drew perfectly in barrier 4, Riley, happy with the gelding's 57kg.

TAB Fixed Odds have installed Gold In Dubai at $5.50 behind The Verminator ($4.60) and surprise favourite, the Bryan Guy-trained Shuffle The Cash at $4.

Riley won the 1978 Ramornie aboard Mistress Anne, trained by his father Martin, the 78-year-old now residing in Yamba.

“This is the best chance I've ever had to win a Grafton Cup,” Riley said. “It would be a fantastic homecoming. I'm really looking forward to getting back to Grafton with a very good cup chance.

“Until last year, I hadn't been to a July Carnival for 30 years.

“The horse has done enormous since Caloundra. He worked sensational up there the other day.

“Barrier four, I'm absolutely rapt.”

Gold In Dubai has really struck a purple patch of form and proved beyond doubt in the tough Caloundra Cup run, 2400 metres isn't beyond him.

“Who knows he might even turn into a Melbourne Cup horse. He's seasoning now after coming off a sprinting preparation,” Riley added.

Spechenka will have plenty of admirers after drawing barrier five.

Chris Waller's The Verminator, will be ridden by Glyn Schofield.

The big question mark is Victorian-trained Summarise, prepared by Stephen Theodore, kept safe at a $6.50 chance.

The up and coming four-year-old Lonhro gelding is a last start Sandown winner over the cup trip.

Grafton will be represented by Sunday's restricted class winner Nortepoppy, trained by Alan Ryan, current at $81.

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