A full field of 16 is set to face the starter for the running of the $85,000 TAB Rockhampton Cup over 1600m. They should run along at a solid clip with Absolut Artie, I Can I Will I Am and Trommelschlagen all to go forward, while Magstock, Macho Tycoon and Shiranda are likely to push on from their awkward wide barriers as well. Absolut Artie has opened as favourite in the grey gelding’s toughest assignment to date, with Bargannon, Balboa Rocks and Spectroscope the only other runners in single figures.
Friday racing tips for 2020 Rockhampton Cup
Balboa Rocks @ $6 Sportsbet
It’s very hard to ignore Balboa Rocks’ most recent run, winning over 1500m at this track while carrying 64kg. He drops 6.5kg for this second-up assignment in a race that has eluded him in the past, finishing third in 2018 and fourth in 2019. The last two editions of the Rockhampton Cup have been run on bottomless heavy tracks, so he will be appreciative of the dry surface on Friday. He is a winner four times at Rockhampton from six starts and is said to be going as good as a horse can be. Class jockey Ash Butler takes the ride and should find himself in a beautiful spot from barrier five, allowing the big six-year-old to find clear air in the straight and finish over the top of them. The $7 was gobbled up early and is now into as short as $5.50 at some online bookmakers, which is still a very backable price.
Bargannon @ $5.50 Sportsbet
The clear danger to Balboa Rocks comes in the form of David Vandyke’s Bargannon. He comes into this race second up after a good fifth behind Inquiry at Doomben in the Listed Spear Chief Handicap over 1350m, where he was held up for room and finished off nicely. The step up to the mile will suit the five-year-old gelding, which has a win and a second from two starts at the trip. Jake Bayliss will find the fence from barrier three, get a lovely run in transit behind the speed and bustle his way clear in the straight. His second-up record is strong (4:1-2-0) and he has been well supported early doors in the market, firming into $5.50. Bargannon brings the class to this year’s Rocky Cup and will be very hard to beat.
Barachiel @ $14 Sportsbet
We’re not putting a line through race favourite Absolut Artie by any means, as he should lead and take plenty of running down under in-form hoop Ryan Wiggins, but we are going to leave him out of our top three only just and turn to another grey that presents great each-way value. Jim O’Shea’s Barachiel finished third to Absolut Artie three weeks ago, charging from near last to get within 2.5 lengths of the winner on a day where it was nearing on impossible to make ground. He had to carry 61kg that day and finds himself in this with only 55kg under regular rider Chris Whitely. He will be back towards the tail end of the field from barrier 10, but with the speed set to be a genuinely run mile, he should get every chance to have one last crack at them down the middle of the big Rockhampton straight.