The scratching of General's Sniper cost Greg Ryan a chance of claiming his ninth Gilgandra Cup in last year's running of the race but the Dubbo rider believes he is in with a big chance in the 2013 edition, which will be run on Sunday.
Ryan rides Freton for Muswellbrook trainer Troy Hall in the 1600m event, which carries prize money of $27,000 and is the feature of the town’s two-day new year racing carnival.
Freton goes into the race after close-up placings at Mudgee (third behind Are You Sure and Texan Lad) and Tamworth (second behind Mafioso) and Ryan believes he is the perfect ride to add to his tally of winners which already includes Top Sodbuster (1995), Satin Reserve (1996), Double The Ton (1998), Northern Glow (2000), Nepelle (2001), Antonia’s Magic (2002), Shagny Lover (2004) and General’s Sniper (2011).
“Just looking at the race I think there’s probably two open company horses in him and Prior Baron in it,” Ryan said.
“Moment Of Clarity has gone OK at this level before but he needs to lift on his last win, especially from the outside barrier.
“Prior Baron has form behind Leicester Square, and Leicester Square has solid form in Sydney so I think he is the one we have to beat.”
Ryan’s record in the Gilgandra Cup is the stuff of legend, with his eight wins coming in a 16-year span but the rider himself admits there was a bit of luck involved in a few of them.
“I reckon at least five of them I won because I missed the old sand patch from the 600m to the 400m,” he said.
“In those days I would go back, let the speed go and then take off wide near that patch while the others ran through it and it would save me three lengths by doing that.
“That patch isn’t there any more so I have to win it on my merits these days.”
Meanwhile, Hall hopes Ryan’s acute track knowledge and renowned ability in the saddle will be enough for Freton to overcome his awkward barrier.
Freton drew barrier 10 in the 12-horse cup field.
“I won’t be giving Greg too many instructions, just letting him know about the horse,” Hall said.
“Obviously he’ll have to go back early but Greg is one of the best in the business. Basically I’ll be leaving it all up to him.”
Hall admitted he would have been far more confident if Freton had drawn stablemate Shadow Buster’s barrier six.
“Yeah, I would like to have swapped,” Hall said. “The barrier is Freton’s biggest obstacle.
“We’ll just have to leave it all up to the pilot (Ryan).”
“He got to the line really strongly first-up then we actually thought he’d won at Tamworth. Unfortunately he didn’t get the nod in the photo.”
Freton has recorded six wins and 18 placings from 39 starts and earned in excess of $140,000 prizemoney.