Rustic Steel is favorite for the Scone Cup

As Kris Lees chases a Listed Scone Cup breakthrough tomorrow, he says The Coast winner Rustic Steel is in the same excellent condition he was a week ago.

RUSTIC STEEL winning the The Coast
RUSTIC STEEL winning the The Coast Picture: Steve Hart

Having led throughout in the $500,000 The Coast (1600m) at Gosford last Saturday, Rustic Steel  lines up six days later in another 1600m highlight - but this time with a different rider.

Jay Ford rode the four-year-old at Gosford, but had already taken a Cup booking on his recent Hawkesbury Cup placegetter Atishu for Chris Waller, and Lees was able to secure Kerrin McEvoy, who numbers a Scone Cup amongst his many credits, which include three Melbourne Cups.

McEvoy won the 2012 Scone feature on Raspberries.

Rustic Steel carried 52kg when The Coast was restricted to three and four-year-olds, and rises 2kg against all comers tomorrow.

Nonetheless, his trainer had absolutely no qualms about backing him up.

"Rustic Steel has done really well, and remains in great order," Lees said this afternoon.

"He didn't have a hard run last Saturday anyway being able to dictate out in front. It wasn't much more than a track gallop.

"There's no reason why he can't run very well again, even though it's now against older horses."

Market assessors agree, as Rustic Steel this afternoon was a $5 favorite with in a typically open Cup.

A victory or second placing will boost the gelding's chances of contesting the inaugural $2m Big Dance (1600m) at Royal Randwick on November 1.

Lees has eight acceptors on the opening day of the Scone Cup carnival, but is almost certain to dodge the Country Cup Benchmark 84 Handicap (1400m) with Tawfiq Lass because of her awkward draw, and rely on French Marine (Aaron Bullock) and Think Free (Josh Parr).

Provincial-Midway Championships Final third placegetter French Marine at $61 goes up 5.5kg to 61.5kg topweight, whilst Think Free has 1.5kg less.

"Both are chances in a tough race, but the wetter the better for them," Lees said.

Baltic Coast (Bullock) and Royal Ballet (Hugh Bowman) represent the stable in the Class 1 Handicap (1600m).

Import Baltic Coast was impressive in winning a 1400m Maiden at Newcastle on April 9 at his Australian debut (and only his third career start), and Fastnet Rock filly Royal Ballet has had the benefit of two runs back.

"There's not much between them but Baltic Coast is up and going and has trained on well, whereas Royal Ballet may now be looking for more ground," Lees said.

The stable's other Scone runners are Pachecho (Maiden Handicap, 1000m) and Mobstar (Class 2 Handicap, 1300m).

Hugh Bowman rides Pachecho, and stable apprentice Dylan Gibbons partners Monstar. Both horses are resuming from spells.

"Pachecho has been gelded and is coming up nicely," Lees said. "He was runner-up at Scone on debut last August, and won a recent trial on the Beaumont track.

"Mobstar also appears to be coming up nicely, and performed well at all three runs in his first campaign.

"He has had two trials to get him ready and, like Pachecho, won his latest on the Beaumont track on April 26.

"I expect him to run well."

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