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By Graham Potter | Friday, June 17, 2022

You just never know where an Ipswich Cup winner might take you.

Ask Larry Cassidy … who, incidentally, will be looking to land his third Ipswich Cup on Saturday aboard the Chris Waller trained Our Intrigue after having won the race in 2004 and 2009 with Portland Singa and Our Lukas respectively.

It was the Neville McBurney trained Portland Singa who took Cassidy on quite a ride.

Cassidy had become Portland Singa’s regular rider, partnering her in the last five starts in Sydney prior to being set for the Ipswich Cup which he ultimately won by 0.40 lengths from the Bryan Guy trained Motivate who was ridden by Michael Rodd.

Two weeks later, Portland Singa and Cassidy completed the 2004 Queensland Winter Carnival Provincial Cup double by taking out the Caloundra Cup.

A year later Portland Singa and Cassidy were back in Brisbane, upping the ante now to take on Group 1 company in both the Doomben Cup, where they finished sixth behind Perlin, and the Brisbane Cup, which they won in style at double figure odds, in spite of jumping from barrier eighteen.

That prompted the sights to be set even higher.

A clutch of Group racing assignments … the Group 3 Tramway, the Group 2 Hill Stakes (in which Portland Singa finished second behind Desert War) and the Group 2 Turnbull (where Portland Singa finished out of the placings, but less than three lengths behind Makybe Diva … were all just the prelude to a big day out at the Caulfield Cup which was won by Railings.

But an even bigger day out was still to come for Portland Singa and Cassidy.

No less a stage than the Melbourne Cup beckoned on November 1, 2005, and Portland Singa did herself proud with a sixth-place finish behind Makybe Diva on that historic day when the mighty mare claimed her third Melbourne Cup victory to the acclaim of the racing world.

Just to be part of that action … albeit in a minor role … was a fitting end to a great relationship between Portland Singa and Cassidy, The Cup was Cassidy’s last ride on the horse, who would have only one more start before being retired.

They had come a long way since that Ipswich Cup win and their journey subsequent to that success shows that the race can be a serious stepping-stone to bigger things.

In that respect, as the launching pad for Portland Singa’s assault on the big time, the Ipswich Cup will hold fond memories for Cassidy … but his focus now will be all about looking to add a new chapter to that playbook on Saturday where his mount, Our Intrigue, is currently the joint favourite at $4.80 with the Annabel Neasham trained Bartholomeu Diaz.

Where to from there for the winner?

Who knows … but two facts are clear.

Portland Singa has set a steep path for any Ipswich Cup winner to follow but she has also shown what can be achieved from that base and, from that, Saturday’s Ipswich Cup winner will be able to take some encouragement.

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“I used to ride a lot for Neville McBurney. He is a very astute trainer, and I had a great association with him. Portland Singa was a really good, tough stayer, but she just lacked that extra little bit of class to get her to the top. The Melbourne Cup and the Caulfield Cup … that’s just another level. She showed she was up to it, but just a few lengths off the real, real top class. She was pretty simple to ride, but you had to be on your way at the 800m so you could make a long, sustained run on her. I was in front a fair bit down the straight with her in the Melbourne Cup, and it was obviously a great thrill to be involved on the day when Makybe Diva won her third Cup.”

Larry Cassidy
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