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Veteran trainer chases more glory in Esperance Cup

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Shaun McGruddy aboard the Steve Wolfe-trained Let'sdeal at Mt Barker Turf Club in 2022.
Camera IconShaun McGruddy aboard the Steve Wolfe-trained Let'sdeal at Mt Barker Turf Club in 2022. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Albany trainer Steve Wolfe hopes to turn back the clock 15 years with the claims of Let’sdeal in Sunday’s $100,000 Freight Lines Group Esperance Cup (2000m).

Wolfe boasts five Esperance Cup triumphs, including three straight with Special Jester (2005, 2006) and Kingston Classic (2007).

The veteran horseman’s first cup success was in 2002 with Jeune’s Fantasy and Impact Rating’s 2009 victory yielded the last of his cup successes.

Let’sdeal was on Friday quoted a $4.40 second-favourite on TABtouch — behind the Daniel and Ben Pearce-trained Manavendra ($3.90) — and is coming off a second-place run last month over 1675m at Bunbury.

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But with the gelding lugging a topweight of 60kg from barrer 18, Wolfe on Friday said it would be a tough assignment.

“It’s going to be a struggle from that (wide) gate, plus he’s got the (top) weight,” Wolfe said.

“That makes that one (Manavendra) from the Pearce stables pretty hard to beat from where I’m sitting.

“But he is competitive at the distance and this has been a race that we’ve targeted a few times over the journey, although it’s been a few years.

“We haven’t been back there (Esperance) for a while — we used to go there regularly, but you have the cost of travelling and staff.

“Plus I was a bit younger back then.

“I’m 76 later this year and probably have more horses now, in excess of 35 in work and another 20 getting pre-trained here and there, so it’s pretty full-on.”

Leading Kalgoorlie trainer Peter Fernie’s hopes are with Utgard Loki ($26) from barrier four, with Wolfe also represented by Ex Sport Man ($14).

The Esperance contingent in the cup will be led by Helen Harding with three runners — Chuck A Luck, Freedom Square and Olden.

Sunday’s eight-event card starts at 1.32pm with the Esperance Cup run at 5pm.

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