Bunbury Cup contenders on Alert

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Mitchell WoodcockSouth Western Times
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Dark Alert and trainer Joe Miller are primed for an assault on next week’s XXXX Gold Bunbury Cup after winning the $100,000 Bull and Bush Tavern Cup (2019m) at the Bunbury Turf Club on Sunday.

The six-year-old gelding finished in front of second-placed Rock Giselle by a nose, with Not Again Ken and pre-race favourite Eleven Seconds both less than half-a-length behind.

Dark Alert ($6) sat one out behind the leaders before making his move at the 800m mark, when Paul Harvey and the gelding went three wide as the pack formed.

From here it was about who could maintain the speed the longest and it was Dark Alert with a lunge at the finish who saluted the judges after claiming the lead at the 200m mark.

Miller said with the Bunbury Cup ahead he felt Dark Alert was in country cup winning form.

“He was ridden really well today,” he said.

“I usually go around the different country cups, that’s what I bought him for.”

Last year’s Bunbury Cup winner Material Man was also victorious in the same race in 2017, but Miller believes the Justin Warwick-trained champion was on another level.

“Ours was a little bit closer. We won, but not like they did,” he said.

“He (Dark Alert) is there and it all depends on what comes into the field between now and then.”

Eleven Seconds’ Bunbury Cup chances took a hit but after he reportedly pulled up lame after the race.

South West trainer Michael Lane also had a good Sunday, when Plays The Game ($4.60) claimed a win in the $19,000 Azform Handicap (2219m).

The five-year-old former New Zealand galloper won for the first time since coming to Lane’s stable last year.

Jockey Chris Parnham held the gelding to the back of the pack before taking to the outside on the final turn, pushing past the two leaders to win by small neck from Magical Charm ($3.70) and Hakuna Matata ($5.50).

Bunbury three-year-old gelding Sweet Dreamin’ also broke maiden status when champion WA jockey William Pike rode him to a win in the $16,500 Hollywood Transport Maiden (1208m).

The Holly Locke-trained gelding broke through for victory after four previous attempts in Bunbury.

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