Ashley Maley says if the ‘racing gods’ are on his side he expects Sluice Box to be the horse to beat in Sunday’s Tabtouch Geraldton Gold Cup (2100m).
Sluice Box has not won a race this campaign, but Maley says it’s bad luck rather than form that has stopped the gelding from winning his most recent races.
“The horse I think has been extremely unlucky in his last three runs,” Maley told The Races WA.
“He’s been going really well and has been given impossible tasks.
“Ridden half ok I think he should be able to win it.”
Sluice Box’s troubles commenced in February when he was held up for the majority of the straight when unplaced behind Downforce at Ascot.
The six-year-old then covered ground when a gallant third behind Off Wego in the Esperance Cup (2000m) and last-start got a long way back before running on for sixth to Pale Rider.
Maley said Sluice Box did a great job to finish as close as he did to Pale Rider, who ran a cracking second to Alaskan God in Saturday’s Group 2 WA Derby (2400m).
“He was virtually 25 lengths from the leader carrying 59kg,” Maley said.
“He’s only a little horse and you can’t just do that.
“Before the Esperance Cup he got stuck behind slow horses in the straight and couldn’t move.
“It’s a race I’ve always wanted to win and he is due.
“We set him for this race a long time ago.”
Sluice Box has tightened to $2.65 favouritism after he opened at $3.50.
Off Wego has eased from $2.40 to $2.75.
Black Money is $7 and Sugar Cain $8.50.
Off Wego, from leading trainer Adam Durrant, has won three of his past four starts including the Esperance Cup.
The four-year-old carries top weight of 60kg and jumps from barrier four. Regular rider Clint Johnston-Porter reclaims the mount
Sluice Box has been allocated 55.5kg and will have the services of Troy Turner who takes over from the suspended Brad Rawiller.
Sluice Box has drawn barrier seven.
“He’s in well at the weights and the barrier is ok,” Maley said.
“We didn’t get the outside which is awesome.
“Troy (Turner) knows the track better than most.
“He knows how they operate in Geraldton and I think that’s a plus.”