POPULAR horseman David Moran will aim to join some elite company in Melton on Saturday night.
Set to contest the famed A G Hunter Cup, Moran is attempting to become just the third driver to win the Grant Circuit event with three different pacers since the feature’s inauguration in 1949.
Chris Alford was the groundbreaker, scoring with Paris Affair in 1998, Mont Denver Gold in 2003 and Sting Lika Bee in ’07.
New Zealand reinsman Anthony Butt followed suit thanks to his wins with Blossom Lady in 1994 and ’95, her son, Mister D G, in 2004 and Mister Feelgood in ’09.
Butt then became the Cup’s most sucessful driver by also winning with Stunin Cullen in 2011, Choise Achiever in ’12 and Mah Sish in ’13.
“That’s some pretty good company there if I can pull it off,” Moran said. “Those two blokes are champions of the game and just to be mentioned alongside them is a fair effort.
“My two previous wins have been with strong fancies, while this time I’ll be relying on a lot of luck.”
Moran opened his Hunter Cup account with former star Lochinvar Art in 2021 before emerging triumphant with Honolua Bay last season.
Moran trained Lochinvar Art, while Honolua Bay was prepared by premier trainer Emma Stewart.
This time around Moran will partner Curly James from barrier four for 19-year-old trainer Courtney Laker.
A last start winner of the Shepparton Cup, Curly James is a $31 TAB Fixed Odds outsider in what is a “sharp rise in class” for the son of A Rocknroll Dance.
“Courtney couldn’t have him any better, it’s just the class he is up against and where he is going to be in the run,” Moran said. “He’s got good gate speed, but the fact can sit on any tempo, not bothered by it and still get home is his best asset.
“That said, he will need luck in this class.”
Citing Leap To Fame as the one to beat, Moran believes Miracle Mile champion, Catch A Wave, “holds the key: to the $500,000 major.
“Leap To Fame is the obvious top choice and I think Catch A Wave is the only one which can hold him out,” Moran said.
“If Catch A Wave does lead I think it changes the whole race and brings a few more into play such as Max Delight which will be following the leader from the inside of the back row.
“It will be a very interesting start and I just hope we can slot into a good position early.”