Morphettville trainer Dan Shepherd considers Snake Gully Cup start for So Skilled

BIG ASK: Morphettville trainer Dan Shepherd (left) with jockey Dom Tourneur. Picture: Thoroughbred Racing SA
BIG ASK: Morphettville trainer Dan Shepherd (left) with jockey Dom Tourneur. Picture: Thoroughbred Racing SA

It’s The Snake Gully Cup gamble – a 2000 kilometre round trip to try and snare Gundagai’s lucrative  and most prestigious race.

South Australian trainer Dan Shepherd will have to cover more kilometres than most with So Skilled to run in Friday’s $70,000 feature.

Despite the long haul, Shepherd hasn’t ruled out starting So Skilled despite the likelihood of him jumping from the outside gate.

So Skilled drew 15 in the 16 horse line-up and with the fourth emergency unlikely to gain a run from gate 16, it will be Shepherd’s runner who jumps from the extreme outside gate.

Shepherd is still to commit to a start and will weigh up his options after seeing barrier draw at other tracks where So Skilled is entered.

“It’s a $70,000 race over 1400 metres which is ideal for him and he is going good over here,” Shepherd, who is based at Morphettville, said.

“He is also entered at Moonee Valley, Adelaide and Dunkeld so there is a bit to weigh up.

“I have heard about the Snake Gully Cup and it may be worth the trip across.”

Another trainer weighing up his options is Wangaratta’s Dan McCarthy with Pittsburgh.

The winner of three of his past three starts, Pittsburgh is also nominated at other venues in the next few days.

“He goes well on top of the ground and there is rain forecast so I will weigh it up,” he said.

“He is also entered elsewhere, but it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to run in a good race when you draw gate one.”

The Snake Gully Cup – a race steeped in tradition in Gundagai – has been a long term goal of trainer Nick Olive.

The Canberra trainer would love nothing better than to win his first Snake Gully Cup despite the highs he recently experienced with Caulfield Cup runner-up Single Gaze who also ran in the Melbourne Cup.

“I’m flying under the radar this year. I would love to win it with Bring A Secret but I have trained several fancied runners and keep running placings,” he said.

“The horse is going great and his track work on Tuesday was terrific.”

It’s a big day for Olive who also turns 45 on Friday and will have a lot of Gundagai support through his connection with Single Gaze who is part owned in the town.

“I want to win it badly but we will wait and see,” he suggested.

Rock On Zariz and Mercurial Lad will renew acquaintances after running first and third respectively in the Wagga Stan Sadleir Stakes.

Mercurial Lad looks the likely leader from a suitable draw, while Rock On Zariz gained an ideal run to win last start and could again be placed to advantage.

Trainer Keith Dryden has won the race a few times and on Friday will be represented by Ziganaui and Beau Tirage.