Lewis Lauds Our Corelli

Our Corelli is the youngest and least experienced runner in the $25,000 August Cup over 2536m at Gloucester Park on Friday night, but champion reinsman Chris Lewis is bubbling with confidence about the four-year-old’s winning prospects.

Lewis said he was delighted when Our Corelli, trained by his wife Debra and owned by their son Mark, drew the coveted No. 1 barrier.

“We’ll definitely push out and we’ll hold up,” said Lewis, who added that he was impressed with the sparkling gate speed the New Zealand-bred gelding showed in a 2130m event last Friday night.

Our Corelli was unable to cross the polemarker Convert Denario and after racing in the breeze in the early stages he raced in sixth position, one-out and two-back, before finishing a sound sixth behind Handsandwheels, who rated a smart 1.55.6.

“The extra distance this week won’t hurt Our Corelli,” Lewis said. “Barrier one suits him and he’s definitely a winning chance. He seems to be bouncing off his runs pretty well.”    

Our Corelli has raced beyond 2185m only once in his 27-start career. That was at his first start for Debra Lewis when he finished boldly from sixth at the bell to win from the favourite The Lightning Strike at a 1.57.6 rate over 2692m at Pinjarra on July 1 this year.

The gelding boasts a splendid record for the Lewis stable --- seven starts in the space of 41 days for five wins and $53,949 in stakes. He is the second foal out of the Christian Cullen mare Reklaw, who was retired after two starts in New Zealand in October 2012 for a head second over 2600m at Timaru and a strong-finishing nose victory over 1950m at Addington.

Our Corelli’s full-brother Rishi is still racing n Victoria where he has won nine times for Lance Justice after winning at three of his five starts in New Zealand.  Our Corelli and Rishi are closely related to Franco Encore, who earned $593,738 from 28 wins and 19 placings from 70 starts. Franco Encore won eight times in New Zealand and three times from four starts in Australia (including the $50,000 Queensland Derby and the $100,000 Australian Derby at Albion Park in July 1997). 

The August Cup was first run in 1950 when Doug Booth drove Lily Girl to victory over Johnnie Robert and Gamble King. Lewis was successful in the 2012 August Cup when he brought the Andrew de Campo-trained Dasher VC with a surging burst from eighth in the middle stages to beat Cromac Johnny and Sneakyn Down Under.

One of Our Corelli’s most serious rivals on Friday night is the Stephen Reed-trained Kiwi Legend, who will be driven by Mark Reed from the No. 2 barrier. Mark Reed has won the August Cup as a reinsman with Another Party (2000), Buck The Odds (2004) and Tricky Vic (2005) and Stephen Reed prepared Uppy Son for his win over Has The Answers in the 2013. A win by Kiwi Legend would come as a welcome present for Mark Reed, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Wednesday this week.

Champion trainer Gary Hall Snr has won the August Cup with Zakara (1991-92-93-94), Im Themightyquinn (2010), Northview Punter (2014) and Chicago Bull (2018). He will be represented in this year’s Cup by Herrick Roosevelt and Whozideawasthis. Hall’s son Gary (who will drive Herrick Roosevelt) has won the Easter Cup with Im Themightyquinn, Uppy Son, Northview Punter and Chicago Bull.

Greg Bond, who prepares veteran Our Jimmy Johnstone (Bailey McDonough) and the talented duo of El Jacko (Dylan Egerton-Green) and Vampiro (Ryan Warwick) in partnership with his wife Skye, trained Mister Odds On when Colin Brown drove him to victory over Spirit of Shard and Fourmoore in the 2009 August Cup.

El Jacko and Vampiro have drawn out wide but each is capable of a bold showing. The Phil Costello-trained Vultan Tin (Chris Voak) can never be left out of calculations, but the seven-year-old faces a stern test from the outside barrier (No. 9).