Count De Rupee headlines The Gong nominations

Metropolitan racing remains provincial as Golden Eagle runner-up and Illawarra local Count De Rupee headlines the third running of the $1 million The Gong.

Metropolitan racing returns to Kembla Grange this Saturday for the third edition of Illawarra’s feature race, The Gong (1600m).

Having fallen heartbreakingly short in The Golden Eagle, the Robert and Luke Price -trained gelding and Illawarra local Count De Rupee is poised to go one better as he lines up as an early favourite for the 1600m feature.

Having won the inaugural running of The Gong in 2019 with Mister Sea Wolf, Chris Waller again looks to have a stranglehold on the race, with six nominations.

Group 1 placegetters Aramayo, Wheelhouse and Reloaded along with Kiwi mare Atishu are all likely starters, with Polly Grey and Nudge waiting in the wings.

Having failed to threaten in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes, Aramayo is the pick of Waller yard in early markets, currently a $6 second elect with tab.com.au.

After an unplaced effort in the Chatham Stakes (1400m) at Flemington a fortnight ago, Team Hawkes-trained gelding Archedemus is likely to head back up the highway to defend his crown.

The son of Lope De Vega put in a gutsy performance when narrowly beating Dawn Passage and Think It Over to take out last year’s edition.

The Hunter’s winning trainer John O’Shea will be looking to continue his good form, as he lines up Wyong Gold Cup winner Berdibek and Kiwi gelding Kirwan’s Lane.

After missing a start in Newcastle as a first emergency in The Hunter, Godolphin runner Criaderas is set to fly the flag solo for the Blue Army, a $26 chance in early markets.

Like The Beauford conducted during The Hunter program last Saturday, The Warra is a new $300,000 race set for its inaugural running at Kembla Grange.

Attracting 16 entries, the 1000m Handicap is sure to be an exciting contest. The Bjorn Baker-trained Malkovich heads betting in front of black-type winners Isaurian and Eleven Eleven.

Currently rated a Heavy 8, the Kembla track is likely to remain wet with rain forecast for the backend of the week and over the weekend.

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