Distance test for Pop ‘N’ Scotch
Trainer Liam Birchley admits he has gone from believing to hoping Pop ‘N’ Scotch can be a Group One two-mile horse.
Pop ‘N’ Scotch gets another chance to prove he is a genuine stayer when he tackles the Listed Queensland Cup (3200m) at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
Trainer Matt Laurie’s decision not to run Tattersall’s Cup winner and original topweight Escado means the weights have been lifted 4kg with all runners to carry 58kg.
Last year as a three-year-old Pop ‘N’ Scotch came with a late run to finish second to Iggy Pop in the the Queensland Cup when raced by Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm.
Clients of Birchley paid $220,000 for the gelding at last year’s Patinack dispersal sale.
Since joining the Birchley stable, Pop ‘N’ Scotch has raced well but has won only one race, the Provincial Stayers Championship Final over 2150 metres at Ipswich on June 13.
“I must admit I would have thought he would have done at lot better by now,” Birchley said.
“But to be fair he has continually run into tracks which haven’t suited him or races which have not been run to suit.
“You can only make so many excuses for horses but in his case they have been genuine.
“His win in the Ipswich race was outstanding, so he can do it.”
Pop `N’ Scotch was always well back in the Tattersall’s Cup but if he can prove himself over 3200 metres, he will be set for next year’s Sydney Cup.
“We were tossing up the idea of going to Sydney this year but decided to concentrate on the Brisbane winter,” Birchley said.
The Queensland Cup is one of a handful of stakes races left on the calendar over the Melbourne Cup distance.
Birchley’s main worry on Saturday is the rating of the Sunshine Coast track which was in the heavy range three days out.
“Pop ‘N’ Scotch can handle soft going but what worries me is if you get a gluey track which sometimes happens when the Sunshine Coast gets a lot of rain,” he said.
“This will probably be his last run before a spell and we will be able to give him a good break before deciding and which way to go with him.”
Jeff Lloyd rode Pop ‘N’ Scotch in the Tattersall’s Cup but Paul Hammersley, who rode him to win at Ipswich, has regained the ride.
“The only problem could be the 3200 metres is too short,” Hammersley said.
Meanwhile, Birchley said in-form sprinter Rock Royalty was unlikely to run if the Sunshine Coast was too wet.
Rock Royalty is among the favourites for the Campaign Group Open (1200m) but will be diverted to next week’s Ramornie Handicap at Grafton if he doesn’t run on Saturday.