Punters off load on Lochinvar Art

The whole complexion of the Hunter Cup had a two-minute rollercoaster ride during the barrier draw.

Lochinvar Art was first out of the big guns and when he drew the back row (gate nine), a gasp of anticipation, some would say excitement for the race, went through a packed Crown Palladium Room last night (Sunday).

Just two minutes later, the air was sucked out of that gasp when defending champion King Of Swing fared awfully with gate 12.

Deeper analysis shows Lochinvar Art’s back row draw is much better than it seems with him draw to follow out he fastest beginner and likely leader, Alta Orlando.

Most think Lochinvar Art will punch through, settle in the first half of the field and trainer-driver David Moran will be quickly off around them in search of (and probably getting) the lead.

That would be game over.

Lochinvar Art was $1.70 with the Aussie TAB pre-draw, $1.50 straight after it and quickly smashed into $1.30 moments later.

It’s his Hunter Cup to lose.

“I don’t mind the draw,” Moran said. “There’s a couple of the other really good ones drawn outside me on the back row and I follow out a fast beginner.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had him better. He’s just so versatile and we’ve got options from that draw. Settling in front of a couple of the other key rivals will be a big advantage.”

Lochinvar Art drew poorly and was never in the hunt when seventh in last year’s Hunter Cup as an early four-year-old.

Since then he’s raced 17 times for 13 wins (five at Group 1 level), three seconds (including a Miracle Mile) and a third.

“He’s just a more experienced and seasoned horse than 12 months ago, more of a complete package,” Moran said.

King Of Swing will need to do something extraordinary and need a lot of luck to successfully defend his Hunter Cup crown from gate 12.

The very best Alta Orlando, like the one who ran third in last year’s Miracle Mile, would run a mighty race from gate two, but it’s unclear whether he’s in that sort of form. And he’s shown he’s better driven with a sit at the very top level.

Star Galleria is the third string of the Belinda McCarthy trio and he’s off the back row (gate 10) as well.

Triple Eight, who is due across Wednesday to join the Jess Tubbs and Grey Sugars barn, drew the pole and come into play as a place hope.

Anthony Butt’s emerging Wolf Stride was yet another to draw the back row (gate 11) and has the task ahead.

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