Contrasting plans for Cambridge winners

Promising Cambridge galloper Popeye Braggins is set to enjoy a spell, while Civics Rock, the other handsome winner from the centre, is on target for further winter spoils.

Popeye Braggins completed a Te Rapa double when he proved too strong for his rivals in the Munns The Man’s Store/R.M. Williams 1600 at Te Rapa yesterday. It was also his third win from 10 starts and all victories have come in his last four outings and all have been at Te Rapa.

Noel Harris, who is riding the crest of the wave at present, has found the key to Popeye Braggins and has been aboard in each of his wins. He quickly learnt about the O’Reilly four-year-old when riding him for the first time when eighth over 1400 metres at Ellerslie on March 2, then successfully clicked with him next start at Te Rapa.

“Harry (Harris) liked him the first time he rode him,” said Tony Pike, who not only co-trains Popeye Braggins, but also part-owns him. “They’re both laid back and they get on well.”

Harris had one home-straight worry with Popeye Braggins yesterday. “I thought we got to the front a bit too soon,” said Harris. “He hadn’t raced for over a month. But he did it well in the end. He’s a nice horse and he’s just kept stepping up each time.”

Pike doesn’t want to push Popeye Braggins’ campaign any further. “He can go out for a spell now,” he said.

The win was a change of recent luck for the Pike – Mark Donoghue stable, which hasn’t had much go its way in Brisbane this winter. Carrick was an acceptor at Eagle Farm yesterday, but withdrawn because of a wide draw.

“He’ll go down to Sydney for some of the staying races there,” said Pike. “It was no use running him (yesterday) from the draw. Wide draws have been against us over there.”

Meanwhile down at Trentham yesterday Ralph Manning struck it lucky with his good winter sprinter Civics Rock, who, like Popeye Braggins did at Te Rapa, completed a double. Civics Rock had won well at Ellerslie on May 25 and despite carrying the topweight of 59kg he proved too good in the Hiremaster Handicap for rider Hayden Tinsley.

Tinsley sat Civics Rock off the pace and when he asked the Civics four-year-old for an effort inside the final 300 metres, the response was impressive. Civics Rock has now a third of his 27 starts and is proving a fine moneyspinner for his owners, Manning and Tony Coombes.

Yesterday’s win took Civics Rock’s stake earnings beyond $100,000 and he should add significantly to that amount before winter ends.

“There’s nothing much to aim for,” said Manning. “We’ll just go for the open sprints and take what we can.”